USA Today has unveiled its second redesign in less than three years, this time with an emphasis on offering advertisers a wider array of formats to choose from. Last time around, USAT had concentrated on building out more social media on its site, including user comments and community features, something that has since become pretty much de rigueur for online news outlets. The redesign comes shortly after USAT laid off 37 staffers at its newspaper and magazine amid a continuing steps by parent Gannett (NYSE: GCI) to hold down costs. Also, building up its website now certainly makes sense after the paper lost its spot as the number one daily in paid circ to the WSJ last year, due to the weak travel spending, as USAT has traditionally relied on automatic deliveries to hotel guests.
For the most part, the redesign is fairly typical of similar newspaper website efforts, offering a “cleaner” homepage, while still retaining the colored section tabs at the top. In one overdue change, the new USAToday.com presents a greater number video and in a more prominent position within the top half of the page.
Aside from the promise that the new site’s pages load “25- to 35 percent faster” — I certainly didn’t notice any difference — the main difference with this redesign is the 14 ad formats to advertisers.
Putting the stress on variety is another good move at this point, especially since the promise of the large formats that were promoted by the Online Publishers Association as a way to drive higher display revenues have been experiencing some challenges. Initially, the idea was to offer something special that wasn’t available through the lower cost ad networks. But the ad nets were able to steal websites’ thunder by offering bigger units for at the lower prices. Nevertheless, display advertising has been enjoying a comeback lately. With USAToday.com’s continued strength, it could see some benefits from the new ad placements.