NYTimes.com marketing notes
Friday, October 11th, 2002
Here are outtakes from my Wednesday interview with Craig Calder, NYTimes.com marketing VP.
Calder offered up the new data and a generous dollop of context. As someone who has spent six years badgering newspaper folk to embrace the web, I enjoyed his story.
As I noted yesterday, the site generated 85,000 new home delivery starts in 2001, up from 25,000 in 2000. Through September 30 this year, they’ve generated another 58,000. (My calculator annualizes that to 77,000.)
‘We were their most cost-effective and efficient means of acquiring subscribers,’ said Calder. Since online subscriptions are charged to a credit cards, people aren’t canceling, he notes.
‘We work very closely with the circulation department,’ he said. ‘Even if you are not ready to subscribe today, when you do get to that point, you have a great affinity for the brand and product.’
I asked Calder to rate the relative importance of different strategies within the total marketing effort. He said NYTimes.com’s e-mail newsletters accounts for 30% of marketing return, headline distribution deals are 40%, keyword targeting with Overture and Google is 10%, and search engine optimization is 10%. The last 10% is miscellaneous experiments.
E-mail newsletters The site now sends out 3.5 million ‘Today’s Headlines’ e-mails, up from 1 million in January 2001. Niche newsletters range from 85,000 for ‘In Advertising’ to 290,000 for “Book Digest.” Eight of 12 newsletters have 150,000+ subscribers.
NYTimes.com launched the ‘Sophisticated Shopper,’ a compendium of ‘special offers’ this summer and already has 101,000 users. These users were acquired through in-house promotions like banners and notes to the 2 million people who accept e-mail updates from the site. All NYTimes.com e-mail technology is managed in-house, he said.
Headline distribution The site recently negotiated a deal to run headlines on AOL for free. In addition, NYTimes.com pays Altavista, Yahoo, MSN and Netzero between 1 and 3 cents per click for visitors referred by headlines posted on those sites.
Nothing conveys the brand more succinctly than a headline, he said. ‘This is much more effective than two years ago when we were paying 25 cents a click for banners,’ Calder said.
Search engines NYTimes.com has devoted attention to its appearance in search engines, but the site’s performance is constrained by registration and padlocked archives. Calder did not have figures on the initial impact of News.Google.
After achieving operating profit for each quarter since Q2 2001, NYTimes Digital is on track to achieve an operating profit for the year in 2002. Combined with the staff of Boston.com, NYTimes Digital has 220 staff, with 15 of those involved in marketing. Calder said the site does not release figures for what it spends on online marketing.