Starting this week, LinkedIn members reading an article in either the business or technology section of NYTimes.com will see a box featuring five stories selected for them based on their LinkedIn profile. What they may not notice is that online ads have also been targeted to them.
Calling it "a groundbreaking relationship," Denise Warren said the collaboration had been in discussion for several months. Ms. Warren, senior VP-chief advertising officer for The New York Times Media Group, said that since LinkedIn members were mostly professionals, business and technology were considered the optimal sections in which to use the targeted-news feature. The Times has no immediate plans to extend it to other sections. "Both companies decided to try this in a limited way at first," she said.
When LinkedIn members visit the site, they receive a NYTimes.com cookie. The cookie captures data such as industry, job function, seniority, company size, gender and geography. While the story selection is based only on the LinkedIn member's industry classification, advertisers use all the information to target a select audience.
Will protect privacy
Ms. Warren said readers' privacy was very important at the Times. There is no way to personally identify or target an individual user. Users also have the ability to opt out of the feature.
Kay Luo, spokesperson for LinkedIn, said, "We felt that The New York Times is obviously a great brand and useful in delivering news to our people." There is a lot of overlap between them: 50% of LinkedIn users visit NYTimes.com and 20% of NYTimes users go to LinkedIn. LinkedIn has a member base of 25 million and NYTimes.com has over 17 million unique visitors each month.
The Times has also included LinkedIn in its "share" feature, enabling members to e-mail stories to all of their LinkedIn contacts.
LinkedIn also partners with BusinessWeek.com. Members reading company-specific articles can find who they are linked to at the firm within three degrees. Ms. Warren said The Times does not plan to incorporate this feature.
While not disclosing any specifics about projected revenue from the new relationship, Ms. Warren was optimistic about its potential, given that NYTimes.com has been successful at generating ad revenue and advertisers find targeting capabilities interesting and valuable.