Not so long ago, The New York Times struggled with major financial issues. The Grey Lady seemingly turned the corner and is now a poster child for the publishing industry thanks to a 4.5% jump in subscription revenue. The newspaper’s Corona-19 pandemic coverage resulted in 600,000 new digital subscribers during the first quarter of this year. However, while the pandemic is ravaging the U.S. economy, it is also negatively impacting The Times’s advertising revenue. Their overall ad revenue fell more than 15%, to $106.1 million, last quarter.
Though The Times calls themselves a “subscription-first publisher,” they still rely heavily on paid advertising and address the decline in revenue with “first-party data-based advertising solutions” combine a deterministic data with panel and survey data. They also plan to phase out third-party data for audience targeting in its direct buys by 2021, well ahead of Google Chrome ending support for the third-party cookie.
According to Sasha Heroy, Senior Director, Ad Products and Platforms, The New York Times built 45 new proprietary first-party audience segments for advertisers to target ads against. Those segments are broken up into 6 categories: age, income, business, demographics, and interest. By the end of the year, they will introduce 30 additional segments. The first group of segments became available this July 2020.
Heroy says The Times has worked at validating the data and performance of the models against existing third-party data segments. “We’ve done comparisons using different methods to allow us to say, confidently, that our segments are at least as, if not more, performant than third-party alternatives.”
She says the publisher has received a lot of excitement from their advertisers, fueled in large part by Google’s announcement to sunset third-party cookie support. “A lot more conversations are happening, the timing feels right for us to be exploring our approach to marketers, some RFPs include questions about first-party data.”
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