NYTimes.com Nabs Yahoo Exec for Marketing

Murray Gaylord: 'Obsessed With User Experience'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The New York Times has raided Yahoo for its latest senior hire, persuading Murray Gaylord to leave his post as Yahoo's VP-brand marketing to become VP-marketing at NYTimes.com, effective Jan. 8.
Murray Gaylord
Murray Gaylord Credit: New York Times

At NYTimes.com, where he will report to senior VP-general manager Vivian Schiller, Mr. Gaylord will oversee marketing, customer service, research and web analytics. "We have ambitious plans underway," Ms. Schiller said in announcing the hire, "and will rely on his critical insights to lead our marketing plans."

MediaWorks had a few questions.

MediaWorks: Given the years that newspapers spent living in fear of Yahoo, is it a funny feeling to come over to the newspaper side of the game?

Murray Gaylord: No, actually not at all. For me, I look at it in terms of an opportunity to make a difference for a brand. The NYTimes.com is a brand, like Yahoo's a brand, and that's really my focus: how we take it to the next level. It's not a question of the newspaper business or stock prices or anything like that. For me it's about fun.

MediaWorks: Do the folks at Yahoo have any sort of newspaper envy of any kind?

Mr. Gaylord: I'd never seen that at all. We just did a big deal with a newspaper group. Everyone is focused on, and has been focused on, getting users to come to the site, engaging the users in any way possible and building the business. We looked at what others are doing, of course, but it's really just blocking and tackling to get a great product.

Both the Times and Yahoo are similar that way. What I like about the Times is that they really are obsessed with the user experience. That's very much what Yahoo has done over the years.

MediaWorks: What aren't most newspapers doing online that they ought to be doing?

Mr. Gaylord: My first impression is that some of the newspapers tend to just put up what's in their paper. It's like putting the soundtrack from a TV commercial on the radio. There's a certain sensory experience that happens in one medium and not the other. You don't want the same content exactly the same in both because they are different.

What's great about the NYTimes.com is that they understand that. You're often on the site for a very quick look at something and you're out, whereas the print edition is something you may be spending more time with. The product has to reflect the way people use different mediums.

MediaWorks: What will it take to significantly increase ad rates for newspaper sites -- or will ads on paper always cost more than ads on the screen?

Mr. Gaylord: I don't know. Ask me that in three months. Ad rates follow eyeballs and experiences. So the more that we can get more eyeballs to the site, more of the demographics that advertisers want, the more engagement, the more time people spend so they're more involved, those are all things that we want to do. That's no different than anybody else. You've just got to do it well.

MediaWorks: So what will 2007 bring for NYTimes.com?

Mr. Gaylord: I hope great success. I know that there's some great new products in the works that I think will be very exciting. My role will help to market those so people will want to check it out and get engaged in it. If I can do that then, hopefully, mission accomplished.
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