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New York Times' Native Ads Take Shape, Include a 'Full Content Studio'

'Full Native Advertising Platform' Coming in Two or Three Months

By Published on .

Meredith Kopit Levien, exec VP-advertising at The New York Times, said Tuesday that the Times will roll out a native advertising platform on its site in the next several months.

"Native is a table stakes for every marketer and every publisher," she told an audience at Sharethrough's Native Advertising Summit in Chicago. Banner ads, she added, are a "huge and important business" at the Times, but they will become more automated and standardized over time. Many publishers hope native ads will help counter the downward pressure on ad rates that's created by those trends.

She also stressed the importance of native ads in making more money from the Times' mobile site.

Ms. Kopit Levien told Ad Age last month that the Times planned to introduce branded content units with its website redesign next year. She explained in further detail what this will look like at the Times during Tuesday's summit:

Over the next two or three months, The New York Times will in fact launch a full native advertising platform. That platform will consist of four things: discoverability for marketers' content and stories on our site in a manner that is consistent with how other editorial stories are discovered on our site fully and transparently labeled as coming from a marketer; a new set of storytelling tools and continuously scrolling multimedia storytelling pages like what I showed you with Snow Fall that can be used by marketers; a real-time engine so marketers can understand what's going on on our site and what actually matters in the news at that moment and a set of social amplification dashboards so marketers can understand how that content travels out across the social web so that we and the marketers can optimize with it; and also a full content studio bringing in storytelling talent of our own that sits separate -- entirely separate -- from our newsroom and works on the commercial side of that organization to help ensure that the stories being told on the Times -- just like that Putin story, just like a story by Maureen Dowd or Tom Friedman tells -- is of the highest quality possible.

For the Times it's a moment of great opportunity and it's also a moment of great responsibility to get it right.

An audience member asked her if the Times will turn away "boring brand stories," to which she answered flatly: "Yes."

Ms. Kopit Levien joined the Times in July from Forbes, where she oversaw the magazine's BrandVoice, a platform similar to what she described Tuesday that allows marketers to post their stories directly to Forbes.com.

Digital revenue at the Times fell 3% in the third quarter, a faster clip than print ad revenue, which declined 2% compared with the same period last year. During an earnings call last week, Times CEO Mark Thompson said he and Ms. Kopit Levien are "determined to restore" growth to digital advertising revenue. Overall revenue at the Times climbed 2% in the third quarter, with an assist from digital subscription revenue.

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