Is Gawker Planning to Force You to Watch Embedded Advertisements?

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I was playing around on Gawker's beta test site just now and came across something a little jarring. (Yes, this is how I spend my Sunday evenings when there isn't a football game to tune in to.) The design is simple and clean; it's quite obvious to the casual visitor what goes where and how to move around from one post to the next. I navigated to the 'About' page, though, to get a sense of how static web pages will be displayed on the new site when it eventually goes live -- owner Nick Denton originally planned on launching the redesign in early January, but that date has come and gone. What I got was a countdown, a clock, like a bomb ticking off on my screen: "This page will be displayed in 15 ... 14 ... 13," or something to that effect.

I fumbled with my keyboard, trying to score a screen capture, but a giant, column-wide video filled the page and, before I knew it, the timer ran out, the video advertisement disappeared, and the page popped up.

I read Gawker with some regularity, but I usually come in from the outside: A friend will recommend a story or leave a link to a Gawker post in his or her away message, a quick scan of the site's RSS feed will push me to dive deeper, or I'll come across a mention in another publication and, voila, there I am. But I've never seen this before on the site. No larger point here (other than, if true, Gawker is bound to upset a handful of very vocal readers and, in the process, bring in a considerable amount of new revenue), but I wonder if anyone else had come across an embedded, timed video advertisement on the site. Have you? (I went straight to my Gmail, planning to shoot an instant message to Denton himself but, for the first time in recent memory, his screen name was signed off.)

We've grown accustomed to large display advertisements that often swallow the entire contents of a page that we're trying to view, but, when that happens, there's always the option to close the ad. Timed ads that you can't bypass are typically associated with video content -- think of that subset of quality, copyright content on YouTube that's monetized through an affiliate program. Gawker will never go behind a paywall; it won't cost you money to visit the site. But 15-second videos really can add up.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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