There’s a lot to like in this week’s update to the New York Times’ iPad app. The new version has much more content than the previous “Editor’s Choice” app, the navigation is improved and the app feels much more polished. But it’s the handling and placement of the ads that really impresses me.
In-app advertising so far has been a mixed bag. Many apps rely on ad networks and phone-optimized ad units. Some have created custom ad units, including “sponsored by” messages on the app’s splash screen.
The Times appears to have taken a different approach: their ads make excellent use both of the iPad’s form factor and new user interface features in Apple’s iOS.
The most obvious ads are the banners at the bottom of the category index screens. While nice and unobtrusive, what makes them shine is how well they handle rotation. Every ad requires two creatives: one for each orientation. The result is a great presentation of the ad content. So far, the ads themselves have been well-produced. Tapping on the “Conviction” ad opens a Fox Searchlight page that is nicely compatible with Mobile Safari, including the movie’s trailer.
The in-story ads resemble IAB-standard 300×600 ad units and appear on every other screen of a multi-screen story. The number of screens grows dynamically as the user changes the text size to suit their reading style.
Perhaps the best example of the Times’ advertising prowess is the ad in each story’s sharing panel. The Times has, for many years, excelled at offering sponsorships to various tools and features on nytimes.com. It appears that this concept is being applied in-app as well. Tap on the sharing panel within any story and you’ll see the various sharing options (e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Copy Link) as well as an ad. I’d love to see some numbers for how often that sharing panel is opened. My guess is that it is impressively high. Good for advertisers, and good for the Times.