Time Magazine Considers Ad Gateway to Subscription Content

Time Inc.’s flagship magazine, Time, is testing the notion of making formerly premium online content available free via an ad gateway.

Using technology from Ultramercial, Time.com site visitors have been able to access the renowned “Person of the Year” cover story, along with the magazine’s full archive of articles, free for 24 hours. But only after they view a multi-paged, full-screen interactive ad from sponsor Chrysler.

“This is their biggest franchise and this crosses over onto the print side, too, as far as the sponsorship deal,” Dana Jones, founder and president of Ultramercial, told ClickZ. “This is a very big undertaking for Time.”

If the venture shows promise, the publisher may make future cover stories, or other content currently only accessible to subscribers, available on an ad-supported basis. Currently, the cover story, which goes online the day before the magazine hits the newsstand, is for subscribers only.

“We’re evaluating the results of Ultramercial with an eye on using it again in the future,” said Ty Trippet, a spokesperson for Time Magazine.

The Ultramercial has been most widely used by venerable online publication Salon, which began letting non-subscribers access content via a “day pass” in early 2003.

A move to open archives and premium content to better generate revenue from online advertising would be consistent with other trends afoot in the industry. Last week, WashingtonPost.com said it would allow users free access to its articles for 60 days, up from 14. Previously, those articles had gone into a subscribers-only archive.

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