The content-sharing arrangement scheduled to start this week between the online divisions of The New York Times and Financial Times may lead to opportunities for global advertisers to broaden their market reach.
"I would see that as a real possibility," said Patrick Brennan, U.S. managing VP for FT.com. "It could really add value for global advertisers."
There is no advertising element in the mix just yet, Brennan said, but if global advertisers were to step up to the plate The Times and Financial Times"would be the ideal partners for such a venture."
Christine Cook, VP-international sales, New York Times Digital, added that the content-sharing arrangement should appeal to global advertisers—such as multinational companies looking to fill jobs in their satellite offices—eager to target two rich Web audiences.
Under the terms of the agreement, announced last month, New York Times Digital will publish up to 10 stories a day from the business, technology and international sections of FT.com, the online unit of the London-based Financial Times, which is owned by U.K.-based media conglomerate Pearson plc.
FT.com, in turn, will be able to choose 10 items a day from a New York Times Digital feed of selected stories.
All of the articles will keep the branding of the site that originally produced them. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Flexing marketing muscle
The content-sharing arrangement should add some marketing oomph to both The Times and Financial Times brands, and serves as yet another example of how big media companies are trying to build their Web strategies.
"A lot of other media will be looking to the Web as an incubator of ideas," FT’s Brennan said. "You can expect more cross-fertilization of content among like-minded media."
Cook said the deal also gives the company an opportunity to better serve a growing international audience online. Currently, New York Times Digital gets 16% of page views and 16% of unique visitors from outside the U.S.
In its most recent quarterly earnings report, The New York Times Co. said revenue for its online division decreased 12% to $15.3 million, from $17.5 million in second-quarter 2000. Before taxes and other charges, the company said its online business posted a profit for the quarter of $800,000, compared with a loss of $8.8 million a year earlier. Pearson said in July that the Financial Times’ Internet enterprises are on track to break even by the end of 2002.
Mike McHale, global media director in the U.S. for Optimedia International, a New York-based advertising agency, said that for now the deal would have little impact on advertising, and that it’s more of a cost-cutting measure.
"You have comparable editorial products, so instead of having to go do stories themselves The Times or FT can get it from each other," he said. He added that if the companies were to develop an advertising mechanism, "it would still be two telephone calls because there’s a disproportionate amount of ad revenue between the two players with The Times having the lion’s share."
However, Pam Eleftherio, group media director at Carat Interactive, said: "Global advertising is becoming much stronger, and a bigger part of many companies’ ad budgets. The combination of two credible audiences presents a great opportunity for advertisers to integrate their plans both online and offline."
Content sharing online is hardly novel. New York Times Digital, for instance, already runs technology content from indirect competitors CNet Networks Inc. and financial news from CBS MarketWatch. In addition, the online unit of The Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com, has content-sharing deals with MSNBC.com, Japan’s Nikkei news agency and the Germany-based Handelsblatt.com news agency.