Slate Redesign Integrates Ads With Content

Microsoft’s Slate online magazine, which recently switched to a free, ad-backed business model, unveiled site enhancements that include more intuitive navigation, integration of new ad elements and better integration with MSN.com.

The site now offers advertisers additional ad space via sponsorship hot links at the top of sponsored stories and column ads in story margins, as well as the traditional banner ads at the top of Slate editorial pages.

Slate also launched a promotional “Win What Matters” sweepstakes and said it signed seven new advertisers: Audible Inc.; Brooks Brothers; barnesandnoble.com; First USA; OnHealth.com; The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); and Starwood Vacations, the vacation program of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.

Slate’s enhanced site design now lets readers choose among two alternative views of Slate contents–New Today or Complete. New Today lists stories published within the previous 24 hours. Complete lists all the current week’s stories.

In addition to the free content available to any site visitor, Slate continues to offer a premium paid subscription that includes email delivery of popular columns and features such as Today’s Papers, access to almost three years of Slate archived content, and The Fray, Slate’s community forum.

Despite switching to a free content model, Slate said it has increased total paid subscribers since the switch in February to a level approaching 30,000.

Throughout the 33-day sweepstakes promotion, which ends June 11, Slate will give away a total of 660 gift certificates. Starwood Vacations is providing travel and accommodations to the Grand Prize winners. To advertise the sweepstakes, Slate is spending $300,000 on an online advertising campaign created by Quantum Leap Communications Inc.

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