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Almost two years after New Century Network added original editorial content to advertising network sales, it has deserted content production.

NCN, a network formed by a consortium of newspaper publishers including Advance Publications, Cox Newspapers, Gannett Co., Hearst Corp., Knight-Ridder, New York Times Co., Times Mirror Co., Tribune Co. and Washington Post Co., sells online advertising across more than 140 affiliate newspaper Web sites. Advertisers can buy category, geographic or even single Web sites through NCN at rates ranging from $20 to $40 per thousand impressions.

NCN said last week it would stop producing original content for its Newsworks home page, eliminating or re-assigning 20 staff positions. This follows an earlier downsizing of seven staffers in January.

"I think New Century Network has ideal potential as an ad network. The editorial entity was never really that great of an idea," said Peter Storck, an analyst at Jupiter Communications.

Peter Levitan, president of New Jersey Online and an NCN affiliate, said, "New Century Network is hopefully getting back to the knitting that's going to produce revenue and that's advertising, not content."

In April 1996, when the company decided to add a central content site, then-interim CEO Peter Winter told Advertising Age, NCN "evolved into an Internet content development and distribution company. That was not what it was intended to do. . . . [We] decided the only way we could truly advance local newspapers was to help them build and promote content."

Last week, Mr. Winter, now CEO of Cox Interactive Media, said NCN has developed to the stage where it can best serve local newspapers by turning their strong local content into a "powerful interactive ad network."

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