NYTimes.com Builds Original Video Inventory to Satisfy Advertiser Demand

The Times they are a-changin’ again. New and planned NYTimes.com enhancements bring additional video ad inventory and sponsorship opportunities as well as promises of a more personalized experience for the news site’s readers.

As part of a host of new site features to be launched in the coming weeks, NYTimes.com will now present more original video content directly on its homepage, most main site section pages and link to it via a navigation tab at the top of each page.

“There’s just going to be more inventory for video [ads],” said Alyson Racer, VP sales at NYTimes.com, adding, “You hear it across the Web; there’s a thirst for this kind of inventory.” She noted that Lexus and AT&T will be running pre-roll ads within the site’s embedded video content starting today.

“Pre-roll inventory is very, very, very much in demand,” affirmed Paul Palumbo, research director at AccuStream iMedia Research. “[NYTimes.com] will have no trouble whatsoever selling what they make available,” he continued. Palumbo said the ad environment provided within NYTimes.com video content is “essentially clean” and “uncluttered.”

NYTimes.com has also made available new “book ends” ad placements on the right and left of the homepage masthead image. Sponsorships are also being offered in a new “most popular” section and within a personalized platform being developed, according to Rob Larson, director of product management and development for NYTimes.com.

Though he believes that all news sites are “all in competition with one another,” AccuStream iMedia Research’s Palumbo opined, “I don’t think [NYTimes.com is] trying to compete in terms of their broadband offerings.” Instead, he commented, “I think they’re recognizing they need to provide programming for the broadband consumer that is part of their online audience.”

Still, a letter from NYTimes.com Editor in Chief Leonard M. Apcar posted on the site yesterday stressed, “Five years ago, when the prior design debuted, multimedia was in its infancy and video quality was poor. Now, video and multimedia are fundamental elements of our Web presentation.” Explained NYTimes.com’s Racer, “The big difference here is it’s original video coming from our newsroom.” Racer declined to elaborate on changes to the publication’s newsroom processes to accommodate the increase in developing original video content.

A report released last week by The Online Publishers Association found that 24 percent of respondents access video at least once a week and 27 percent watched news and current event video content at least once per week. A new report from the Newspaper Association of America released today shows that unique visitors to newspaper Web sites rose 21 percent from January 2005 to December 2005, and page views increased by 43 percent during that time. A February 2006 study from AccuStream iMedia Research predicts that the number of video streams will grow by 32 percent in 2006 to over 23 billion.

Additional NYTimes.com sections just introduced include a “most popular” area featuring lists of most emailed and most blogged articles, a list of keywords that have been searched for most by NYTimes.com readers, and a list of the most popular movies, based on the number of film reviews read, movie pages viewed and trailers accessed on the site.

The site has also unveiled an archive of news, reference information, photos, graphics, audio and video content that can be browsed by categories within People, Organizations, Subjects and Places headings. According to Larson, a variety of free archived content is available in health, travel and reviews sections.

The site also is testing MyTimes, a personalized page allowing users to organize links to NYTimes.com content and that of other sites. The platform will rely on rules set by users and will not change dynamically based on user interactions like Claria‘s new PersonalWeb and Google’s Sidebar. Many of the paper’s journalists will be creating their own MyTimes pages in which they’ll recommend content to readers, added Larson. It’s all part of the site’s aim to “edit the Web,” he said. Advertisers will be able to sponsor movie show times, stock quotes and other MyTimes features.

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