The New York Times Tries Another Interactive Ad Unit

This time, for Prudential

In keeping with its experiments to create interactive, shareable ad units, The New York Times is running a front-page ad takeover for Prudential that lets users see the front page of the newspaper from the day they were born once they punch in their birthdate. For the ad, the paper created a directory with over 110,000 thumbnails of Times front covers from 1863 to 2002—all told, roughly 55,000 covers, according to a Times rep. The ad includes buttons that let readers share the covers on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The Times has been on a tear creating ad products that take advantage of the value of its own content and the social Web. Last year, it introduced Ricochet, a tool that lets advertisers piggyback on a Times article wherever it’s read. The Prudential ad recalls one such ad the Times carried for the National Geographic Channel in February using TimesMachine, the paper's digital archive. That ad incorporated the front page of the Times from April 15, 1865, the day after President Lincoln was assassinated, to promote the channel’s new drama, Killing Lincoln.

While the Times has been praised for taking an innovative approach to advertising—especially for such a traditional publication—these kinds of initiatives may well invite backlash from editorial purists who would bristle at the mingling of editorial and advertising. For now, though, the Prudential ad has been getting positive reviews on Twitter: