New York Times Names Its First Chief Revenue Officer Since the '80s

Meredith Kopit Levien Gets the Job

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Meredith Kopit Levien
Meredith Kopit Levien

The New York Times has promoted Meredith Kopit Levien, its head of advertising sales, to chief revenue officer, a new role with oversight of both advertising and consumer marketing.

The last time the paper had a chief revenue officer was a brief stint in the '80s, a Times spokeswoman said.

Ms. Kopit Levien's promotion comes at a critical time for the Grey Lady. The Times' largest source of revenue is its readers, which includes print and digital subscriptions as well as single-copy sales. Its digital-only product had 910,000 subscribers at the end of 2014. Mark Thompson, the Times CEO, said he expects that number to climb past a million this year. But its growth rate has also slowed, prompting some analysts to question whether digital subscriptions has plateaued.

One of Ms. Kopit Levien's chief duties will be boosting the number of Times digital subscribers.

"It's a big job," Mr. Thompson told Ad Age. "Meredith is a formidable player."

Ms. Kopit Levien joined the Times in August 2013 as exec VP-advertising. Since taking that job, the Times has posted double-digit gains in digital revenue. Last year, it climbed 12% compared with 2013, driven partly by a native-advertising product called Paid Posts that Ms. Kopit Levien introduced despite concerns from the newsroom.

The Posts comprised "inside of 10%" of the company's digital-ad revenue last year, she said on an earnings call in February; 10% would have meant $18 million.

Print ad revenue fell 4.7% in 2014; ad revenue as a whole was nearly flat, down 0.7%.

Prior to the Times, Ms. Kopit Levien was chief revenue officer at Forbes Media. Ad Age named her to its Women to Watch list in 2014.

Her promotion caps a roughly six-month search for someone to lead the Times' consumer marketing division, which it reorganized last October, splitting the department overseen by company veteran Denise Warren, who was executive VP-digital products, into a marketing division and a digital-products division. Mr. Warren left the company, and the Times sought executives to lead each unit.

Last month, the Times named Kinsey Wilson, who was its editor for strategy and innovation, as exec VP-product and technology.

Mr. Thompson said the Times interviewed "really strong candidates" for the marketing job, but decided to consolidate the role under Ms. Kopit Levien because of the results she's brought to bear heading up advertising.

Ms. Kopit-Levien, who starts in the new role immediately and reports to Mr. Thompson, will now look to assemble a team in the consumer marketing department. "She's going to get to know everyone on the marketing side of the company," Mr. Thompson said. "I'm sure that some point over the next few months we'll talk about the way forward, but she inherits a strong team."

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