Redesigned CBS MarketWatch Features More Prominent Ads

Business and financial news Web site CBS MarketWatch put on a brand new, advertiser-friendly face today, with more prominent display of rich media advertising and of content.

The new home page was widened 25 percent to accommodate a column running down the right. The new rectangular area features a large rich media ad, a special section to highlight growing audio and video news content, and highlights of other editorial content site sections.

“We wanted to be able to increase our broadband video offerings, and the best way to do that was to position that in a prominent spot,” said Scot McLernon, EVP sales and marketing at MarketWatch. “As we started to design it and saw the prominent position of the rectangle, we realized we had a win-win here — something that’s better and more fluid for advertisers, and a terrific position for the broadband offerings.”

The rich media ad consists of a Flash intro, which recedes to a position at the top of the right column. The ad-serving technology is home-grown, and includes a dayparting feature. Absolut has owned the Friday afternoon time slot on the site for several years, McLernon said.

Beneath the Flash ad is broadband video content, formerly accessible via a tab on the site, and through icons within stories, which made it difficult to navigate, he said. CBS MarketWatch will take advantage of the new, more prominent placement by increasing use of video content five- or six-fold. Additional staff has been hired for that purpose, McLernon added.

The video content also offers sponsorship opportunities, with an introductory :15 or :30 spot at the beginning of a video, along with a text link. Some of the first advertisers to take advantage of this position are Johnson & Johnson and Xerox.

The rectangle takes the place of a skyscraper ad. The top of the page now has editorial teasers or “sky boxes,” where an ad banner had been. These will highlight top stories on the site.

“This is the first time in my experience that a publisher has given up advertising space for more editorial. It’s usually the other way around,” McLernon observed.

The new, less-cluttered ad placements have drawn attention from dozens of advertisers, he claims.

“I think we’re onto something here. I’m hoping the trend will be toward less clutter, because when we have less clutter, we have more fluid navigation and a better user experience.”

To draw more registered users to the redesigned site, the company this week unveiled an improved version of its Virtual Stock Exchange (VSE) online stock trading game, now offered free for the first time to registered CBS MarketWatch Web members. Current VSE users must register as CBS MarketWatch members at no cost.

A longtime favorite of business students and investment clubs, VSE now includes more “corporate actions,” such as stock splits and dividends. Additional features are expected in coming months, including integrated news headlines and charting capabilities.

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