My colleague Ivan Kanevski sent me this screenshot from the New York Times’s homepage from earlier today, 10:40pm Eastern Time. The photo accompanying the article, , shows one such storefront plastered with Intel posters. It turns out, Intel is also running ads today in every available ad zone on the NYT’s homepage. Ooh, that’s awkward.
I just visited the NYT’s homepage (now 11:11pm Eastern Time) and the editors have changed the photo to a vacant storefront postered with Nestea ads instead. Phew! That’s better.
(Intel is still mentioned in the body of the article: “Ads for Intel that went up on Monday capitalized on the bankruptcies of stores like the Disney Store, Domain Home and Comp-USA, filling their former shops with digital billboards.”)
“Speaking to analysts during a conference call, Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president of digital operations, said it was more difficult for NYTimes.com to command premium ad rates for display ads during the quarter. As a result, the site will be increasingly designed for cost-per-click ads during 2009, Nisenholtz said.”
The NY Times moving into CPC? Doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. NY Times has a quality-content formula and deep experience in selling premium display advertising to major brands; that’s a segment of the media and marketing sector in which it could and should be a leader. The direct response CPC business requires a different set of muscles (and technologies) that I don’t think NY Times has.
When you’re losing in game you ought to win, I’m not sure the best move is to take up a new sport that’s heavily dominated by Google.
(Disclosure: The NY Times is an investor in Federated Media.)
UPDATE 1/29/09: Clarification from PaidContent
, it’s About.com rather than NYT proper that is moving toward CPC:
“Martin Nisenholtz, NYTCo’s SVP for digital operations, said that with display looking particularly weak at About.com, the company would begin a site redesign that’s intended to reduce its exposure to display. Instead, cost-per-click is a growing category for About, and the redesign would try to exploit that more.”
Last summer Chevy and the NY Times launched a sponsored section that re-purposed editorial content on green fuel technologies and Chevy coverage at http://chevy.nytimes.com . I loved the idea, of course, and even went so far as to suggest that the NY Times borrowed the idea from FM, since we launched something quite similar with Chevy a month or two earlier, called Best of the Green Web.
As I reviewed audience data for Best of the Green Web earlier this week — monthly pageviews in the 6 figures; nearly 2000 subscribers have taken the RSS feed; 15% of the site’s traffic comes by way of natural search; a Dynamic Logic study shows that purchase intent increased significantly for visitors to the site — I decided to check in on Chevy’s sister project with the NY Times. Here’s what I found:
I searched NYT for “Chevy” just to see if the project had moved to a new URL, but I couldn’t find any trace. This is a mistake on two levels.
One, when you publish good content, even as a marketer that’s licensing content originally created by someone else, your readers share the content with their friends by linking back to it. Now those readers are transformed from evangelists (of your content, if not necessarily your brand or products) to grumpy bloggers who have to clean up broken links on their sites.
Two, you admit to readers that, No, this site wasn’t really valuable content that needed to be published or (in this case) assembled from other sources into its own stand-alone mini publication at the NY Times domain. It was just a marketing gimmick. Imagine how you’d feel if you were one of the suckers — you subscribed to the RSS feed, you shared it with friends on your blog or Facebook profile, maybe you even referred to it as editorial content from the New York Times (since, after all, it was) — only to be told, after the ad campaign ended, that you were wrong for thinking you were a part of a 3-way conversation among the Times, Chevy and your fellow environmentally-conscious Chevy fans. You merely tripped into an ad campaign.
The New York Times has launched a sponsored content section in partnership with Chevy that brings together editorial stories from the Times archive featuring GM, Chevy, fuel cell and hybrid vehicles.
I love it. How could I not? It’s a full sibling of The Best of the Green Web site FM launched in partnership with Chevy back in May. I may love it even more, since it’s validation from the Gray Lady that conversational marketing — if done transparently and authentically — can coexist comfortably with the most respected ethics in journalism.
(Disclosure: The Gray Lady is an investor in FM.)