Three Clicks: Baltimore Sun Takeover Ad, Twitter Spam and a Digital Blueprint

Did you see the ad that dominated the Baltimore Sun's homepage Monday? 

If you clicked on baltimoresun.com , you couldn't miss it.  The same can be said if you follow people on social media who post about the media, marketing and/or advertising. Most of them *hated* it.  

The reaction to the ad for Jarvis Appliance was one of three stories that caught my eye in the last week and I thought were worth sharing here.  So read on below the screenshot of the now-infamous Sun homepage ad for quick thoughts on the Sun ad, Twitter spam and a blueprint for digital success.

Baltimore Sun homepage takeover ad.

1. Baltimore Sun Home Page Takeover Turns Back Online Advertising's Clock

(Source: AdAge

Tim Peterson recapped the reaction to the Baltimore Sun ad and admirably listed both pros and cons.

The cons are obvious: It's an ugly ad, it looks dated, it's a bad user experience and it doesn't seem to fit on a site whose brand is important, respected journalism.  

Peterson quotes and paraphrases advertising experts to pull out some possible positives for Jarvis and the Sun, such as:

"[Jarvis] will reach a good percentage of the people who live in the surrounding areas." ...
Maybe The Baltimore Sun and Jarvis Appliance noticed the '90s resurgence taking place in the fashion world and decided to bring it to online advertising. ...
Readers don't need to click through, or to wait out an elaborate video, to know exactly what's on offer this weekend. ...
Maybe ugly can sometimes perform.

Okay. Maybe.

I think the blog post is cutting Jarvis and the Sun too much slack. Let's put it this way: When an evaluation of an ad you ran includes the sentence, "Now all that said, the ad looks terrible," that tells you something went really wrong. 

2.  Researchers Pose as Scammers to Cut Back on Bogus Twitter Accounts

 (Source: The Verge)

Working with Twitter, researchers from George Mason University, the International Computer Science Institute and the University of California-Berkeley purchased more than 127,000 fraudulent, automatically-generated accounts in an effort to figure out how to beat seemingly ever-present spam on the social media service.

The piece by Dante D'Orazio is worth a read if you want to know a little about how spammers on Twitter work and what is being done to stop it. 

An interesting tidbit from the article: Spammers "use digital 'sweatshops' in places like China to have humans solve" spam-defending CAPTCHA codes.

3. Justin Smith’s Blueprint for Modern Media

(Source: Digiday

 Brian Morrissey distilled the introductory letter sent to Bloomberg Media Group staffers by their new CEO, Justin Smith. The blog post breaks down Smith's vision for media, honed at the Economist, the Week and the Atlantic

It's Smith's version of "How to Succeed in Digital Media," but several principles apply  to any business trying to make digital work. Three highlights:

Embrace change: The simple act of choosing to live on the new, wide-open frontier is a powerful step toward success.
Accept uncertainty: When there’s no obvious right answer, we’re forced to experiment, and examine new, sometimes uncomfortable, ideas. 
Quality always wins: No technology will ever erode this demand. It’s our job to keep our standards high as we experiment. 

What have you read recently that's worth sharing? Leave me a link in the comments or send a tweet to @SquarelyDigital

- Jon