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Hard times don't deter 'New York Times'

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At the end of last month, The New York Times launched its first national trade advertising campaign in more than a decade, even as the stock market was tumbling and a financial bailout plan was being hotly debated in Washington. The media plan was finalized before a string of failures among financial institutions started to shake the nation in mid-September, so the crisis could have justified a reduction, delay or cancellation of the trade campaign, said Denise Warren, senior VP-chief advertising officer of the New York Times Media Group. “We decided not to pull back,” she said. “We said, "This is really the time to send a message of strength and stability to our advertisers and the advertising community.' ” The campaign targets “the whole food chain” of advertising decision-makers, Warren said, from media planners and buyers to CMOs at major companies. The print and online effort includes such vehicles as Advertising Age, AdWeek, WWD and MediaBuyerPlanner.com. The trade campaign is scheduled to run through the end of the year. “We're still planning budgets for 2009, so I can't say if it will continue,” Warren said. The budget for the campaign was not disclosed. The concept behind the creative is “to the power of the Times,” executed as if it were a mathematical formula in which (nyt) takes the place of a numeral (such as a superscript 2, indicating squared). In the first creative wave, three words are spotlighted: influence, innovation and ROI. “We really wanted something that was distinctive and flexible . We're very happy with the concepts, the creative and the execution,” Warren said. “There are many other executions that have not yet been seen. You can imagine, for example, "technology to the power of the Times.' ” The trade campaign debuted less than a week after The New York Times made two announcements about its Web site, NYTimes.com. One was the public beta launch of TimesPeople, a social networking feature that allows registered users to share and view each other's thoughts and recommendations on New York Times content. The other was a significant expansion and deeper segmentation of its online business coverage. On Sept. 23, The New York Times rolled out a redesigned “Technology” section with subsections on enterprise technology, the Internet, venture capital and start-ups, and company-specific news. The Bits blog, backed by an expanded staff, and content from the IDG News Service are more prominently featured. The same day, a new “Economy” section and Green Inc., a blog on energy and the environment, debuted. Over the coming months, NYTimes.com plans to expand sections on small business, personal technology and Your Money; to deepen coverage within its DealBook franchise; and to continue to add new tools and multimedia features. Frannie Danzinger, VP-media at b-to-b marketing agency HSR Business to Business, said she has delved deeply into the metrics for The New York Times for her clients. “It's very clear to me that the Times truly is a business newspaper, even though that isn't necessarily the general perception,” she said. “The [deeper] vertical segmentation will be helpful because marketers really are honing in on smaller segments within a larger universe. Green is one of the topics they are expanding, and it's really top of mind in business today.” The TimesPeople feature, which is free, includes a toolbar that appears at the top of users' pages on NYTimes.com. The toolbar links to profile pages, which display the public actions of the user and other network members who have opted in. The public activities included in TimesPeople are readers' comments, recommendations, reviews and ratings. Danzinger said social media tools are “extremely important, but they can't become a commodity. If they're everywhere, it takes away from the value social media provides.” As for TimesPeople, Danzinger said, “They're a little late to the game, so they might have an uphill battle.” Vivian Schiller, senior VP-general manager of NYTimes.com, noted that Cisco Systems is the launch partner for TimesPeople. “The long-term business model for monetizing social media is not fully formed, to say the least,” she said. “We want to get the technology right, to get the features and functionality right, and to build an audience now while we're sorting out the business model.” M
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