The New York Times is the standard-bearer in print and digital publishing, so its decision to experiment with so-called "welcome" ads --- messages that can't be avoided as the site is launched --- is a significant gesture with implications for media.
Until now the Times only placed such uninterruptable ads later in the experience. But earlier this week it placed an ad ahead of the home page (AdWeek's story on it here), before any of its journalistic content could be viewed, and users could only exit the ad after a few seconds. It's essentially a print version of the pre-roll sites often offer for video, but it's a major departure for a site that has prided itself on putting journalism ahead of advertising.
The Times has seen its digital revenue growth slow this year, and its clients have for some time been seeking greater advertising presence. The venerable Times has the clout to resist such entreaties and the clout to capitalize when it opens the door.
Research indicates that in the digital space people are more likely to be irritated by anything intruding into the consumption of its journalism, so this move is not without its risks.
The Times promises to monitor user behaviour carefully, and while it is saying that we can expect some of these ads each week, it is making no commitments to permanence.