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NYTimes.com’s ‘Times Extra’ shines spotlight on linking to third-party content

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Last week’s beta launch of “Times Extra,” an alternative home page for NYTimes.com that offers news from outside sources, may fuel the growing trend among media companies of incorporating third-party content onto their Web sites.

“It’s probably a smart move and a move that we’ll see more of,” said Michael Parker, managing director of media investment banking firm AdMedia Partners. “In newspapers and, to a lesser extent, magazines, everyone is looking for new revenue streams and new ways to serve readers.” He added that other media companies are going to give Times Extra “a real serious look.”

To view the alternative home page, users click a “Times Extra” button located above the search bar at the top of the NYTimes.com home page. Third-party source names, such as The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, are highlighted in green. Users can scroll within these boxes to view up to eight Extra headlines. The Extra version of the home page needs to be reactivated by users every 24 hours.

In addition to linking to rivals like the Journal and Washington Post, Times Extra offers news from CNN, Fox News, the Los Angeles Times MarketWatch (which is part of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network) and the Seattle Times It also carries blogs covering several specialized topics, including blog.bioethics.net and The Hill’s Congress Blog.

“Times Extra provides our audience with a far more comprehensive sense of what numerous sources are saying about the most important stories of the day,” said Denise Warren, general manager of NYTimes.com and senior VP-chief advertising officer of the New York Times Media Group. “This is another example of our effort to become an even more integral part of the Web.”

Myles Kellam, director of interactive services for b-to-b ad agency Doremus, said Times Extra is being designed as a portal, “thereby strengthening the Times’ position as the go-to online destination for news,” he said. “In doing so, users who go to NYTimes.com first benefit the company through increased ad revenue.”

Other traditional media brands link to third-party sources but in most cases not as prominently as Times Extra does.

For instance, WSJ.com’s Technology section runs“Technology Stories from Around the Web, featuring content from BBC News and NYTimes.com, among others. A spokeswoman for WSJ.com would not comment on whether the site is considering any online initiatives similar to Times Extra.

Similarly, washingtonpost.com has a link, via its home page, to Political Browser,” which offers readers content from WSJ.com, nationalreview.com and newyorker.com, among others. In October, washingtonpost.com rolled out Economy Watch, a link from the site’s Business section that offers third-party content focusing on the financial crisis.

“The development of novel types of Web sites and Web content has slowed, and as a result sites need to come up with innovative ways for optimization rather than creating new pieces of information from scratch,” Kellam said. “In essence, it’s evolution versus revolution.”

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