Tag Archives: New York Times

IAB Leadership Meeting: Facebook, NY Times Defend Native Advertising

Native advertising — the insertion of contextually relevant advertising amidst other content — is viewed with suspicion by much of the ad community, which sees it as unscaleable, and perhaps the opposite of its drive towards programmatic (automated) sales.

During the Summary Panel today at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, one hypothesis by moderator Terry Kawaja, CEO, LUMA Partners, playing devil’s advocate, was that “agencies cannot create the volume and quality of native content necessary to populate every native ad.”

New York Times Executive VP of Advertising Meredith Levien, rising to the bait, strongly disagreed. “Good native advertising puts the onus on the reader to decide whether to engage or not,” she said, noting that The Times, Buzzfeed, Forbes (her former employer) and others have set up native ad areas that are clearly differentiated from other content, and highly successful. “It’s not like we have (columnist) Thomas Friedman writing for Pepsi,” she said.

Facebook VP of Ad Products, Monetization and Atlas Brian Boland, a keynoter at BIA/Kelsey’s ILM show in December, vigorously defended native advertising – not surprisingly, since Facebook is banking heavily on it. Native advertising, when combined with personalization, provides unprecedented value, he said. “People are going to a place where they want to discover what is important to them. It creates an opportunity for people to be excited about what they see.”

Boland noted that Facebook has recently been criticized for pushing the envelope with native advertising by having video ads. But critics should have done their homework, like Facebook has, Boland said. He noted that it did reams of testing and research, and the feedback has shown that the video ads are totally engaging viewers.

Going forward, Facebook is developing a set of formats to enable people and advertisers to express themselves via native advertising on every platform – especially mobile. Boland acknowledged, however, that such formats are better suited towards larger media concerns. A handful of publishers will similarly see how things evolve, he said. But it remains “a challenge for midsized publishers.”

ILM East: NYT’s Michael Zimbalist on The Importance of Linked Data

The New York Times and other news organizations have been hampered by the short cuts of HTML and hyperlinks, but are now reclassifying to provide more structured, fluid data in a major development with massive implications, notes New York Times VP of Research Operations Michael Zimbalist, who keynoted Day 2 at ILM East. The benefits are immediate in terms of SEO, but longer term, provider richer product for consumers, notes Zimbalist.

“Information has become increasingly granular or structured,” notes Zimbalist. Each unit of content has extensive machine readable metadata about itself.” Fluid information can move more easily among machines and people.

In the case of The New York Times can now process the 300 pieces of professional content that it produces every day — a brick of compiled information — into multiple formats, including things such as personal editions and slide shows. “You are reaching underneath the databases the power the Web to do new things,” says Zimbalist.

The key is to move the surplus of names to strong identifiers that are linking to data cloud driven bymeta data. The Times, for instance is embarking on moving all its data to DBpedia, which drives Wikipedia, Freebase, which is owned by Google, and GeoNames.

To date, 29,000 names have been recontextualized for a new semantic platform – a “super librarian “ –, which includes 39 percent of people (“Edgar Allen Poe”) , 31 percent of organizations, 76 percent of locations (“Park Slope”and 14 percent of descriptions. “The future is bright for librarians,” jokes Zimbalist.

ILM East Day 2 027

NY Times, Daily Candy, Thrillist Go With Group Commerce Inc. for Deal a Day


The deal a day space has gotten more interesting, as major media companies are diving in for their share of the action. Today. The New York Times, Comcast’s Daily Candy, Thrillist and Meredith Corp. announced they’d use the deal a day platform provided by Group Commerce Inc., a “full service” platform launched by DoubleClick veterans. Everyday Health had previously signed with Group Commerce.

The tie with major online newsletters such as Daily Candy and Thrillist is especially interesting as they come with email lists aleady at the core of their businesses. They also represent different targeted audiences: shopping-oriented females and action-oriented males. Specific audience targeting is a core focus for Group Commerce (although it is arguably true for its many white label rivals as well).

Based in a loft in downtown New York CIty, Group Commerce has positioned itself as the “blue chip” in the space , and grants publishers full control over their lists. It has won Series A funding of $8 million from former AOL President Bob Pittman, Spark Capital, Carmel Ventures and Lerer Media Ventures. Pittman’s extensive background should prove to be a major door opener for the company.

CEO Jonty Kelt is appearing on the morning-long Deals Superforum at ILM East, which is March 21-23 in Boston.

Bay Area News Project Envisions $12 Million in Revenue

Local news cooperatives are now in development in San Diego, Chicago, Hawaii and San Francisco. The latter, known as The Bay Area News Project , is building up with a $5 million investment from philanthropist Warren Hellman, who apparently thought it would be a better idea to start fresh than buy The San Francisco Chronicle.

According to an article by James Rainey in The Los Angeles Times today, the 15 person BANP (a placeholder name) envisions potential revenues of $12 million a year with a four-pronged strategy developed by CEO Lisa Frazier, a former McKinsey consultant who is getting paid $400,000 a year.

Revenue is expected to come from multiple sources, including public radio style members and syndication payments from news outlets that use the project’s content. The New York Times, for instance, has lined up to run stories twice a week in its Bay Area edition (as it has in Chicago as well).

The site has snared New West founder and Industry Standard Editor Jon Weber as its editor. It will rely partly on paid interns from UC Berkeley, and is operating out of donated law office space. We’ll follow it –and the others — with interest. With enough of a bankroll, and much lower costs, there is no reason why these sites can’t compete against newspapers, win new types of users and advertising, and save the day for journalism.

Niesenholtz at Web 2.0: Major Opportunities Ahead for Journalism


Speakers at last week’s Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco mused about the future of journalism with moderator John Battelle. “We’re living in an era of great change all over the place,” noted New York Times Digital Head Martin Niesenholtz. The Internet has “given to us a huge global platform to innovate. It is our responsibility to make it work. You have to innovate your way through this.

“Some (companies) won’t come out of it all,” added Niesenholtz. “A very, very small number of people are going to win. But those that do will include very large, scalable global industries. And some small guys too.”

Niesenholtz added that he wished people would stop blaming Craig’s List for the problems that have befallen the newspaper industry. “By 1995, anyone who had a brain knew that classifieds in newspapers were history. It is not Craig Newmark’s fault that it happened,” he said.

Looking forward, Nielsenholtz especially remarked on the promise of mobile, “which opens up a huge, huge opportunity for us. It is the next great platform for innovation.”

Also speaking on the panel was Huffington Post President Eric Hippeau, the former head of Ziff Davis, the trade publishing giant. Hippeau, who noted the site is up to 16 journalist/producers, said it was small-minded to complain about the collapse of newspaper vertical sections. Battelle had noted these sections had become “atomized” due to online verticals such as Cars.com.

“Advertising is about $200 billion, which is down from $250 billion,” he said. But a larger opportunity comes from communications, including all forms of social media. “$300 billion comes from PR, communications and things like that. It is a much bigger marketplace,” said Hippeau. “People want to be engaged,” and so do brands, which shy away from bad news.

Ex-Chicago Trib Staffers to Provide Chicago Content for NY Times

Local news blogs may have trouble making their economics work. But what if their content can be picked up and paid for by major media outlets? That’s the model behind the Chicago News Cooperative (CNC), a new organization of former Chicago Tribune staffers.

The CNC, which has received start-up funding by The MacArthur Foundation, is developing a destination site named “Chicago Scoop” for early 2010. But in the meantime, it has made a deal to syndicate its content to The New York Times’ new Chicago-zoned edition.

It seems like a win-win all around. The Times gets two pages of professional quality, CNC-branded local content twice-a-week. It also provides the basis for a Chicago edition, which follows other local NYT editions in San Francisco. The CNC reporters, for their part, have a major outlet, which is likely to supplement a partnership that it has formed with WTTW public TV. It also has the possibility of teaming with many other localized national services that have set up in Chicago (i.e. The Huffington Post and ESPN Local).

The model is a slightly different one than others. The U.S. Local News Network, for instance – the new name for The San Diego News Network — partners with local media companies, such as cable companies and broadcast outlets. It provides a quid pro quo of its content for promotion of its destination site. Outside.in, meanwhile, partners with blogs and gives them helpful geo-targeting tools in return for displaying their content.

USC Annenberg’s Geneva Overholser, a featured speaker at Kelsey’s Interactive Local Media conference in December, says that “the future is going to be marked by these kinds of network opportunities. I’m delighted to see the legacy media folks trying to do news in different ways.”

The NY Times Goes HyperLocal with ‘The Local’


The New York Times has largely steered clear of local small business advertising since its unsuccessful foray into local sales in the late 1990s, when it was working with Zip2. But now it is clearly reviving its local advertiser push.

Last June, it started working with AdReady to provide free templates for local SMB display ads. Now it is approaching SMBs from the other side, offering “community” tools via a new hyperlocal initiative that it will call “The Local”. On paper, at least, the site resembles other newspaper hyper-local efforts from The Washington Post and others).

According to Paid Content, The Local begins in Brooklyn with Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, and in New Jersey with Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange. The site intends to cover schools, restaurants, businesses, real estate, crime, government services, transportation and events.

Paid Content also notes that User Generated Content will be solicited from the community, and the site will also be supported by a half-dozen grad students from Jeff Jarvis’ citizen journalism initiative at CUNY. (It seems unlikely, however, that the students would have much to do with SMB sales or recruitment).

We solicited some views on The Times’ project from Outside.in CEO Mark Josephson, who told us he admires individual, town-by-town efforts, such as Baristanet, etc., and they can be relatively successful. But regarding The Times, “I think they are just dipping their toe in the water.”

“Monetization is the big key, but from an expense basis, the only real answer is aggregation and organization. i just don’t see huge biz in one-off hyperlocal sites. Each one is a lot of work. (You) need to aggregate them, organize them and hook them into network with great sales force.”