Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The New York Times Says Energy Companies Are Advertising, Hollywood Isn’t

As I noted yesterday, the New York Times is going to stop providing monthly updates on the state of its business, which is a bummer but also understandable. But company execs do seem willing to discuss their business in detail during the quarterly earnings calls, which is extremely helpful.

Yesterday, for instance, the New York Times (NYT) provided a wealth of information about the state of the ad business. Here’s a summary, with an assist from Seeking Alpha, of stuff I found interesting:

What kinds of companies are still buying ads? Corporate advertisers like energy companies and financial companies–those that haven’t gone bust–trying to reassure customers; advocacy groups trying to influence the new administration.

Who’s cutting back? Hollywood: Fewer movies released, and less marketing money put behind each release (though that will change during awards season this spring); telcos, because there’s less growth out there; books, for obvious reasons.

Classified ads are killing us. Above and beyond anything else, the newspaper business is dying because its super-lucrative classified ads business is (still) dying. Technology, in the form of competition like Craigslist, critically wounded classifieds, and now the economy is finishing it off. The dropoff in the help-wanted category accounted for half of the the Times’s digital decline in Q4, said digital exec Martin Nisenholtz.

NewYorkTimes.com is a meaningful brand for display advertisers. Other properties–like About.com–aren’t. Nisenholtz says ad rates at NYT.com actually increased for most of the year. But About.com, which had been the company’s star digital performer, fell apart at the end of the year because of its display ad business–there’s nothing about the site’s brand or audience that commands a premium from display advertisers. The paper is now redesigning About.com to emphasize cost-per-click ads–that would be ads from Google (GOOG), primarily–because there’s still growth there.

Perhaps as much as 50 percent of the company’s digital inventory is sold by ad networks In response to a question, Nisenholtz wouldn’t put out an exact number. But he came close: “I would say that from an industry-wide perspective, you are probably looking today at around 50 percent. Some of our properties are above that, some of them are below that, but that’s about where the industry is at this point.”


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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo