Sometime next Wednesday, celebrity scientist Bill Nye will take a seat in front of a computer and invite the internet to ask him whatever it wants. But he won't be taking the questions on Reddit, a medium famous for its "Ask Me Anything" sessions. Rather, Mr. Nye will be operating within the comments section of Gizmodo, a Gawker Media website on a page sponsored by State Farm. The entire interaction, from start to finish, will be an ad.
After declines in revenue brought about by rising mobile consumption and real-time auctions for ads, publishers are working harder to offer advertisers creative ways to reach their readers outside of banner ads. Stirring some consumer emotion, they now argue, gives them a better chance to win over coveted brand dollars, so that's what Gawker is trying to do.
"At the end of the day our sales team is made up of marketers," said James Del, head of [email protected], the company's in-house creative department. "Their primary concern is helping their clients communicate their point, not simply slinging banner ads or logo slap sponsorships."