NYTimes.com Debuts Dayparts

Following up on the launch of its “surround sessions” advertising units last year, the New York Times’ online unit now is bringing time-based ad sessions to the Internet — importing another traditional broadcast concept.

The new ad format, dubbed “site sessions,” enable NYTimes.com to feature a single advertiser in exclusive placements across all of its major ad positions for a specific period of time. The format’s inaugural advertiser, American Airlines , will appear from 9 a.m. Eastern time to 10 a.m., from Monday through Wednesday.

Establishing a time-based model enables NYTimes.com’s parent, New York Times Digital, to sell ad inventory similarly to the dayparts format used in television and radio advertising.

Whereas impression-based inventory could result in an ad being delivered, say, at midnight, daypart-like online ad formats constrain delivery to a pre-determined time of day. In the case of American Airlines, it’s ideally just as visitors are logging in to check the day’s news.

So far, only a few sites like CBS MarketWatch have experimented with ad delivery based on time of day. While the format has yet to catch on, there remains more incentive than ever for online publishers to adopt the format, since they’re looking for new ways to sell the medium to deep-pocketed advertisers, who traditionally spend most of their media budgets on television.

Web publishers might find that pitch has gotten somewhat easier since last year, when MarketWatch.com first sold a Friday afternoon ad to Anheuser-Busch . New research by the Online Publishers Association — which counts both NYTD and MarketWatch as members — suggests that the Internet serves as a sort of “daytime primetime” for highly sought-after consumers that go online at both work and at home.

The group’s survey found that the Web serves as the principal medium for reaching these consumers during the workday, when consumption of other media is far lower.

Should NYTimes.com be successful in signing more clients to the new format, the development would seem to signal offline advertisers’ willingness to view Internet media they way they do broadcast — and to boost online spending accordingly.

Site sessions is the second recent effort by NYTD to bridge offline and online media buying concepts. Last year, the company launched surround sessions, in which a visitor to the online publication receives ads from only one advertiser throughout his visit.

Instead of selling ads based on impressions, the surround sessions product lets NYTD begin selling the metrics of distinct users and number of exposures, which translate directly into frequency and reach — media buying concepts long used in the broadcast world.

“Over the last year, innovations in online advertising have helped establish the effectiveness of the medium,” said NYTD Chief Executive Martin Nisenholtz. “Surround sessions moved the industry from impression to session, and made frequency, duration and reach possible online. Dayparts, through site sessions, are the logical next step.”

More than 15 traditionally offline advertisers, including American Airlines, have used surround sessions on NYTimes.com and sister site Boston.com, NYTD said.

“We were very pleased with the results from our Surround Sessions campaign, and are excited about being the first advertiser to adopt Site Sessions,” said James Hering, director of interactive marketing for American’s ad agency, Temerlin McClain.

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