Many months ago (unfortunately, in an earlier, now unreachable incarnation of this site) I mentioned how much I liked a smart new advertising device called the Ultramercial, where you are offered the opportunity to see normally subscriber-only content in return for agreeing to watch an advertisement.
Over at Wired, Adam Penenberg reports on the success of this device. Link: Wired News: Salon's Balancing Act.
Even someone as jaded as I am might be willing to take out a minute of my day to watch an ad if it means I can read stories I can't find anywhere else. (Especially when I can turn the sound off.) Not that it's new, mind you. Salon has been offering it in various forms for three years. What's special is that Salon is, for the first time, inching toward profitability because of it.
Numbers, we love to hear the numbers...
While Salon has only about 85,000 paid subscribers, between 175,000 and 200,000 users visit each day using the Site Pass. According to Melissa Barron, Salon's senior vice president of sales, these ads receive a clickthrough rate between 5 percent for a typical campaign and 20 percent for a movie release -- with one spot inducing an astounding 40 percent of visitors to click on it during the presidential election. (The industry standard clickthrough is about 1 percent). What's more, 85 percent of users who start an ad watch it until the end.