The New York Times Reinvents the Boring Banner Ad

Just don't call it 'native'

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An obscure piece on The New York Times’ website about Picasso repurposing his canvases by painting over older, abandoned projects was fascinating, at least insofar as stories about master artists and their recycling habits go. But let’s face it—it wasn’t exactly click bait.

So the paper added a feature that made the piece much more engaging: an interactive tool that enabled readers to “erase” a Picasso to reveal what lay beneath. Engaging it was; readers ended up toying with the feature for two and three minutes at a time, an eternity in Internet terms.

Illustration: Adrià Fruitós

In that trip through art history, those on the Times’ business side saw the potential for commerce, and four months later the 10-person Idea Lab was applying the same interactive functionality to an online Wisk ad—this time, revealing the dirt on a T-shirt that an inferior detergent brand left behind as opposed to some discarded...



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