Today on the Menu: The Wall Street Journal Ran This Totally Bullsh*t Article That We Hope You See Through

By Matt Van Hoven Comment


The most important story (to you) from The Menu this morning regards the Wall Street Journal‘s piece, “Web Sites Debate Best Values for Advertising Dollars” in which the writer gleefully hums along about why buying premium Web space on content-publishing Web sites is way better than using those cheap-o networks that claim to save you money (my emphasis).

Things get clammy right off the bat, when Emily Steel writes,

“Web publishers this week are pointing to a study &#151 ordered up by their trade group &#151 that they say presents evidence that ads on their prime pages offer more bang for the buck.”

Then in the next paragraph, Steel puts the whole thing right out there (kudos!): one of the Web publishers she so nonchalantly prods at is…the Wall Street Journal. I love that she, in the paragraph above, refers to the matter as if her publication isn’t involved and then immediately following says:

“The Online Publishers Association &#151 which represents creators of Web content such as New York Times Co.,, and The Wall Street Journal &#151 on Thursday is releasing a study that finds that ads appearing on the portals and bought through ad brokers are significantly less effective than the premium ads they sell on their own sites.”

So here’s what you’re reading, correctly: the Wall Street Journal just published a story about research that not only benefits their bottom line (if you listen to it), but was also performed by the trade group they belong to. Oh, and the piece is written in such a way to make you feel like it’s objective and everything, evidenced by that first bit we quoted. It gets better.

The research was based on data from none other than WPP PLC, a company that probably benefits every time one of its many ad agencies sells an ad in premium ad space.

Then Organic’s Steve Kerho is quoted as saying the only thing in the article that makes sense &#151 but only because it serves no purpose than to point out the obvious: networks and premium space are both well and good (but IMO are destined to fail if we continue to rely so heavily on either). Says Kerho,

“You go to media conferences, and there is a portal contingent, there is an [ad network] contingent. Sometimes I feel like saying to all of them, can’t we just get along? You all have a place at the table.”

And the story sort of fizzles from there. To be perfectly transparent, AgencySpy employs both ad networks and premium providers for our advertisers. That’s about as much as I know about it, but you can figure that out just by paying a wee bit of attention.

We can only hope that NewsCorp switches over to the full paid content model so this kind of BS goes away. It erodes our fine sensibility, and more importantly, yours. Because really, any attempts they made at journalistic integrity went right out the window the moment this article was published &#151 if for no other reason than they are trying to persuade you that premium content is better than networks. Oh and everyone involved in the “research” behind it just so happens to benefit if you buy into the idea.

It’s mid-August, as one reader points out: slow.