NYTimes Launches Network of Retail Screens, GM Among First Advertisers

Yahoo and General Motors are the first advertisers on NYTimes.com Today, a retail screens ad network that was previously known as RMG Networks’ Urban Mobile Network. While RMG’s version utilized content from the Associated Press, Weather.com, and various newspapers, NYTimes.com Today will draw text and video reports solely from the newspaper site’s numerous editorial categories.

The companies announced the re-launched network and their partnership on Monday, but didn’t disclose financial terms of the deal. The network’s two-year-old infrastructure entails 850 digital screens in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston. While Yahoo and GM are the only advertisers currently on board, Donna Boyer, RMG’s general manager for the project, suggested that other brands will soon emerge.

Boyer said Yahoo will focus on contextual ads for its iPhone app while GM’s efforts will center on display ads that feature its car models. She characterized the new network as friendly to online marketers looking to repurpose successful display campaigns, due to the NYTimes.com Today’s on-screen format/viewing experience being akin to the Web.

NYT2.jpg “We want to make it easy for digital advertisers to extend their existing creative,” Boyer said. She later explained that the content/ad system will run “in a programming wheel, which consists of approximately two-thirds content and one-third contextually and locally relevant advertising opportunities.”

Interestingly, The New York Times’ ad sales team will not be involved – much less tying the digital screen opportunities into its existing online/offline packages. Instead, the San Francisco-based RMG’s ad sales team will handle outreach to marketers.

Boyer said video ads, geo-targeting, and mobile couponing would highlight the team’s selling points. She added that her company’s reps would focus on “dealing with national brands at a localized level.” The digital screens are appearing in various independent shops around the target cities’ upper-income neighborhoods, Boyer said. Local/regional chains are also a significant part of the mix, including Bacci Pizzeria (Chicago), Café Metro (New York), and Martha & Brothers Coffee (San Francisco).

Seventy percent of the screens exist in shops that either sell The New York Times’ print edition or are within a short distance from newsstands carrying the paper, she said. Ad copy at the bottom of the screens will consistently push the Times’ mobile site, NYT2day.com, targeting waiting-in-line consumers that have handsets.

“Our locations are in the top DMAs and markets, and [match] well with The New York Times’ demographics and readership,” Boyer said. “It really is an opportunity to engage people every day with real-time, relevant, up-to-date, content from The New York Times in a fully branded experience.”

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