Time Inc. is introducing a digital ad unit that pairs its editorial content with brands' marketing messages on Time Inc. properties and beyond.
The product, which Time Inc. is calling Amplify, is one of the company's first tangible moves to boost digital revenue since CEO Laura Lang joined in January from the digital agency Digitas. Ms. Lang on Thursday described a new "strategy for growth" that includes a "next generation" of ad products, finding ways to charge for more digital content, developing a new digital video operation, increasing the emphasis on global opportunities and building an innovation lab where employees can bring ideas. (Read a portion of her staff memo below.)
On traditional desktop websites, Amplify will show up as a 300x600 ad unit, built with AOL's Pictela technology, comprising one tile with an advertiser message and another with content from Time Inc. websites. Clicking on the top will take consumers directly to an advertiser website, but selecting the content piece will bring up an interstitial with a marketing message and then the Time Inc. page with the promised content. The ads can also run on mobile sites and in mobile apps.
The idea is to let advertisers capitalize on consumers' interest in content, on Time Inc. destinations and elsewhere. "We believe this is a way for us, not only in traditional digital but in mobile as well, to broaden the consumer content experience," said Paul Caine, the company's chief revenue officer, whom Ms. Lang named to the additional role of group president on Thursday. "The goal is also to provide scale to advertisers."
Time Inc. owns a range of large brands, including Time , People, Real Simple, Sports Illustrated, InStyle, Fortune, Entertainment Weekly, This Old House and Coastal Living. But the company is securing additional Amplify inventory through a combination of deals with individual sites and purchases made on ad exchanges, according to Adam Solomon, Time Inc.'s VP of digital advertising products. Time Inc. will carefully screen the sites where Amplify ads appear as a result of purchases made through ad exchanges, he said.
The company is informing the ads' targeting by layering some of its subscriber data with behavioral and social data collected on its sites by an outside company. That will allow it to create profiles of non-Time Inc. users who look and act on the web like people who would be interested in Time Inc. content and the advertiser's message, Mr. Solomon said.
The Amplify project was underway before Ms. Lang's appointment but was championed by the new CEO, Mr. Caine said. The company hopes the product's reach beyond Time Inc. properties will help recruit new advertisers, but is pitching existing customers first, he said.
Read an excerpt from Ms. Lang's memo to staff on Thursday:
September 27, 2012
To: All Time Inc. Staff From: Laura Lang Re: A Strategy for Growth
Dear Colleagues: This morning I met with Time Inc. senior management to outline our strategy for growth and I want to share those same thoughts with the entire Time Inc. team.
It is not news to anyone that we're operating in a rough business climate. We have the added pressures of adapting to the massive change that 's going on in our industry. But we are refocusing our efforts and working to reengineer our business. We are committed to investing for our long-term growth, no matter what trade-offs or tough decisions we need to make in the short-term.
I am very confident in the future of this company. We have extraordinary leaders and talent across Time Inc. And, we have a plan.
There are three pillars to our growth strategy:
o Deliver the next generation of advertising solutions: Time Inc. has scale unrivaled by any publisher. We have a breadth of journalism unmatched by any digital competitor. We are bringing our unmatched consumer data and trusted journalism together in new ways for advertisers. No other company can do this. We are rolling out an exciting suite of products right now that are getting phenomenal reception in the marketplace. They won't replace brand advertising. Rather, this is our way to get ad dollars that would not normally go to traditional media.
o Grow Consumer Revenue: We must take a disciplined approach to paid content. We will say "no" to things we have said "yes" to in the past. We will stop giving away so much of our content for free. We will use our data to become better marketers in the digital world and to launch new data-driven consumer products. And we will reinvent what it means to be a subscriber. We are piloting new subscription programs already with PEOPLE and Real Simple and the early work is showing this could be a multi-million dollar opportunity.
o Edit for the future: We will deliver content whenever and wherever the consumer wants. We need more technology to do it. We are in the early stages of developing a fluid, flexible and efficient content management system to allow us to deliver our editorial product seamlessly across platforms: mobile, social, digital and print. We are investing in building a digital video operation. Our edit teams are evaluating their editorial strategies for all our titles.
We have already begun to execute on this strategy with a leadership team that is empowered and accountable. We will make decisions and stick to them. We will measure our speed in hours not weeks. Our cluster heads will be charged with managing their brands holistically and comprehensively. Our edit teams will evaluate every title strategy. Our sales teams will be trained to sell new products that leverage our collective assets. Our consumer marketers will become just as adept at marketing to digital consumers as they are to print subscribers.