Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The New York Times Posts a Help Wanted Ad for a Sales Boss

Anyone want to sell ads for America’s best-known newspaper?

The New York Times is looking for a new ad sales head, following a corporate re-org that went into effect yesterday.

Denise Warren, who used to head up both ad sales and the Times website, has a new role heading up “digital products and services” for the company. In her place, the Times has temporarily installed ad executives Todd Haskell and Andy Wright.

In a memo explaining the change last month, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and new CEO Mark Thompson said the company would look for a permanent replacement “immediately, considering both the talent we have inside The Times and the external market.” Warren had been in charge of ad sales at the publisher since 2005.

Whoever gets the job will have their work cut out for them. Like the rest of the newspaper industry, the Times has seen print ads decline for years, but recently its digital ad revenue has been contracting as well.

In February, the Times said advertising had dropped by 8 percent in the last three months of 2012. The paper also warned that the ad tech boom had begun to compound the pricing problem Web publishers were already seeing from a “glut of available ad inventory,” citing “a shift toward ad exchanges, real-time bidding and other programmatic buying channels.”

In other words: “Premium publishers” like the Times used to be able to charge advertisers more than the rest of the Web. But the gap between the haves and have-nots is shrinking, aided by technology that is supposed to let advertisers cherry-pick the eyeballs they want, wherever they are.

We should see the newest evidence of that later this month, when the Times reports its results from the first quarter of 2013.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work