NYTimes.com Aims for Brand Dollars from Local Advertisers

A new, self-serve ad offering from The New York Times caters to small and local businesses. As newspapers struggle with steady depletion of classified ad revenue from these types of advertisers, such offerings could help recoup some of those lost dollars. It could also help generate more revenue from smaller advertisers than text ads or Web classifieds do.

Through a partnership with self-serve ad platform firm AdReady, the publisher will help business owners create and manage CPM-based display ad campaigns to run on NYTimes.com. They can upload their own creative into the system or use its ready-made ad elements.

Google may be the king of easy-to-build, self-service online ads, and the concept is not a new one. However, recently publishers like the Times and Fox Interactive Media are offering more robust ad formats to small advertisers. In May, FIM said it would soon launch a service for creating video and display ads targeted to small, local advertisers. According to FIM at the time, the CPM-based offering is to be accessible via local Fox TV station Web sites.

Other publishers including Facebook and real estate site Zillow also enable self-serve ads that are mainly text-based but can include images.

Enabling small advertisers to readily run display ads could help generate more revenue than simpler forms of Web advertising. Display advertising “is a more lucrative part of the marketplace for publishers,” said Peter Krasilovsky, program director, marketplaces for local media research firm The Kelsey Group.

Indeed, The New York Times views the offering as a tool for brand advertising, which typically brings in higher rates than performance-based ads for direct response marketing. “The Times is best known in the marketplace as being a branding vehicle and display advertising best leverages our strength as a brand mechanism,” explained Denise Warren, SVP and chief advertising officer, The New York Times Media Group. “We feel there are already lots of options for small businesses to buy text advertising, whereas there are not as many for small businesses to buy display ads in high quality environments.”

In addition to warranting bigger bucks, the self-serve product may also bring advertisers outside the newspaper publisher’s typical client base. “We may see certain categories that are more interested in going with The New York Times” than Google or other offerings, suggested Krasilovsky. Some advertisers that have yet to do much spending online might be more comfortable with the Times’ product, he added.

The service is aimed at people “who aren’t easily addressed by our sales force directly,” said Michael Zimbalist, VP research and development operations at The New York Times. “It’s part of a growing trend to expand the advertiser base and diversify the advertisers.”

“We expect to see local advertisers promoting retail, service and entertainment businesses, and NYTimes.com’s national reach should be attractive to businesses across all of our verticals,” Warren told ClickZ News.

While the graphical elements of the ads may spur interest and result in more local ad spending, Krasilovsky hesitated to separate this new product from other forms of digital advertising that make it easier for small and local businesses to get in on the ad action. “I wouldn’t think of it as being in a vacuum of display ads,” he said. “It’s all about the same thing, to get people who aren’t corporate to think about marketing in a way that puts them on a level playing field with the larger players.”

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