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Time Magazine Has a New Look, and a Cool New Ad Format


Time Inc.
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Time magazine is going to have a new corporate home soon, when its parent company, Time Inc., spins out from Time Warner. And today it has a new digital look: Time’s website has been overhauled, and you should be able to see some of the changes tonight and the rest tomorrow morning.

As always, it makes more sense for you to go look at the site than for me to describe it to you — in particular, so you can see a mind-bending interactive photo taken from the spire at the top of One World Trade Center and an accompanying video and story (those should all be up by Thursday morning).

While you’re doing that, you can keep in mind some chest-beating stats Time would like you to know about the site: Traffic has more than doubled, to 23 million uniques, over the last year, a rise new Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs attributes to a hiring spree and smarter deployment of those resources. Video streams are up 860 percent in the last year, and in February the site did 4.4 million streams.

But what’s most interesting to me is a new ad unit you may come across as you click around. Multiple ad units, actually, that sync up together: One on the left column of the site, where a reader can scroll through a list of stories, and one on the main story well. Click on one and you’ll see the other change. Time built these “magnetic” units itself, and they’re pretty interesting.

Here’s a demo video, featuring Citi, the first advertiser to sign on for the format:

At first blush, these seem pretty smart — arresting in a way that catches your eye, without poking your eye out. And much more effective than “native” ads that either aren’t really native or are poorly written articles no one will ever willingly read.

Time had the unit built in-house, according to publisher Jed Hartman, who says he’s going to charge a “very high CPM — more of a video-type CPM” for the ads. Now that he has launched them, he says, he’ll bring them to online publishing trade groups, in the hope of making them an industry standard.

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