A redesigned Slate debuted Monday morning. The publication had outgrown its old site, Editor David Plotz writes: “We publish three times as many stories as we did five years ago. Where we once had a handful of blogs, we now have 19.”
The new site is responsive, to look better on mobile devices, and it allows multiple homepage layouts, Plotz writes. The site’s homepage editor can now “sculpt” the page “to capture the kind of news day we’re having, whether that means featuring a blaring headline, a poignant image, or a powerful quotation,” senior product manager David Stern says in another piece.
Other stuff: A right rail with a deeper navigation tool and a smaller Slate logo.
“Since you come to Slate to read our stories, not look at a logo, we wanted those stories to be the first thing you see at the top of all our pages,” Plotz writes. If you highlight text, you’ll get an option to share it. Slate will also unveil a new commenting system, including a “new tool that will allow editors to feature especially smart or interesting comments in the article well, giving our lively contributors more visibility,” Plotz says.
A sponsored story by Mini USA has a good spot above the fold on Slate’s front Monday morning. The new site “combats banner blindness and clearly differentiates sponsored content,” a Slate release says. Sponsored content is also part of the idea behind Topicly, a new Washington Post Web app that pushed Monday. Topicly presents a frequently refreshed photo grid of news topics.
Land Rover, a sponsor of Topicly’s launch Monday, appears as one of the topics.
Publishers face a “tricky trade-off” with sponsored content, Michael Sebastian writes in AdAge Monday. Mashable’s Adam Ostrow tells Sebastian the publication “gives potential clients a menu of stories and topics that its newsroom wants to cover, before the editorial staff pursues them.”
This list might include stories and their synopses or a general area of interest. For instance, Marriott paid for a branded series on the future of travel written by Mashable’s tech editor, Pete Pachal.
Last week the Federal Trade Commission said it wanted to learn more about sponsored content. And there’s still the possibility that readers can feel “duped” by it, Sebastian writes. But publishers have to explore such models:
Media are no longer the gatekeepers to distribution and marketers have realized they can create and push messages to people on their own — and when done well it’s not only effective but more useful to consumers than traditional ads. As marketers shift budgets from traditional advertising to content marketing, publishers must try to grab some of those dollars. Increasingly they’re realizing that while brands can create content, publishers still hold the biggest megaphone.