Seattle isn't exactly known as a fashion-conscious place. With the possible exception of a few Leschi and Eastside matrons, we're not typically hanging on the latest word from Paris and Milan. The more closely your closet resembles a Value Village rack, the more fashionable a Seattleite you are.
But you sure wouldn't guess that from looking at seattlepi.com. Every single day, the P-I delivers the very latest from the international runways, in the form of photo galleries on the top right of the home page.
Seattleites, in March, have an especially strong interest in swimwear, it seems.
With all the ink and electrons spilled recently about the P-I's online strategy, virtually no acknowledgment has been given to the most obvious strategy the paper is following...That is: to lard up the home page every single day with new slide shows of lightly clothed, heavily made-up young women.
To find this kind of thing--top of the screen, every day--at other major newspaper Web sites is not so easy. It's certainly nowhere to be found at the Seattle Times. In fact, it seems very possible that these slide shows (which are notorious click-magnets) by themselves account for the edge of a half-million unique monthly visitors that the P-I has over the Times. (See Rick Anderson's feature story this week for more.)
You have to go to a cheesy place like the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where galleries of bikini ass shots are standard, to see such shameless click-whoring. At SeattleWeekly.com we like to put up sexy slideshows sometimes, too, such as this week's visit to the Erotic Ball. But these are local events of obvious interest to local audiences, done once in a while.
And yet who can blame the P-I? The slideshows represent hundreds of thousands of no-cost clicks that can (potentially) subsidize actual journalism. Most of these images come from Getty, and Getty subscribers can grab as many photos as they like. So why not throw up 45 shots from the swimsuit parade?
In the bass-ackwards economics of the Web, a click is a click is a click. As a result, the mouth-breathing drooler flipping through a slideshow of Swim Fashion Week Day 2, at two-seconds-per-page, has a higher dollar value to the Web site than the interested reader who spends ten minutes digesting an investigative piece about the Boy Scouts.
If you're looking for insight into the P-I's possible future strategies for making an online product work, you'd be a dope to obsess over a couple new links on the home page to MyBallard.com. The real action is clearly happening top right.