New York Times Reports First Ad Revenue Increase In Three Years

Online Native Ad Product Shows Some Life With New Advertisers

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The New York Times Building
The New York Times Building Credit: Renzo Piano Building Workshop

The New York Times saw a 3.4% increase in advertising revenue during the first quarter, the company reported Thursday, breaking a three-year losing streak of ad-sales declines.

Print advertising rose 3.7% compared with the first quarter last year; digital sales climbed 2.2% to $37.8 million. It was the Times' first quarterly uptick in ad sales in 13 quarters.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, ad revenue slipped 1.3%.

Meanwhile, circulation ticked up 2.1% during the quarter, with the total number of paid digital-only subscribers reaching about 799,000, an increase of 39,000 compared with the end of the fourth quarter of 2013.

Total revenue was up 2.6% to $390.4 million.

The Times has made a series of moves to restore growth to its declining digital sales, including the introduction of native advertising (or "Paid Posts," as the Times calls them) in January. Advertisers using the product have included Dell, Intel, Goldman Sachs and, on the mobile side, Cartier.

It also introduced two new subscription products to goose its digital subscriber base: the lower cost mobile app NYT Now and the more expensive Times Premier. Those rolled out last month and will "take some time to ramp up," the company said in its earnings release this morning.

Mark Thompson, CEO of the Times Company, said in a statement Thursday that its native ad product "launched very successfully during the quarter." He cautioned, however, that the company is not "claiming victory in advertising yet."

On several occasions, Mr. Thompson has pledged to restore growth to digital advertising at the Times, but in the earnings release he also said warned of ongoing unpredictability in the marketplace. "We expect continued month-to-month volatility and recognize that we will face some significantly tougher year-on-year comparisons as the year goes on," he said.

Total ad revenue in the second quarter is expected to decrease in the mid-single digits, the company said.

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