Monday, May 19, 2008

NY Times Incline or Decline?
I recently attended Incisive Media’s ePublishing Innovation Forum in London. It is put on by the same team that bring the industry the iconic London Online conference. They put on a good conference with some really great speakers. Vin Crosbie, a media consultant presented some information about the decline in newspapers, specifically citing the decline in readership at the New York Times.

The question I raised was how looking at only one metric is misleading. Sure, people are not consuming as many dead trees as they used to. Where I live in CT I can only receive the Times for home delivery on the weekends. However, I receive the excellent DealBook newsletter every morning, plus emails containing the top news headlines every day. On the home pages I maintain there are links to NYT headlines as well as a variety of RSS feeds from the auto sections, food sections and from freakonomics. (I also download a crossword from time to time). The implications for advertising are quite significant.

Is it anyone’s job at the NY Times to profile me as a subscriber? Probably not yet but by looking at the self selected items above, you could deduce that I’m interested in business, economics, food and autos – and you’d be right. My NYT consumption may be less in terms of time spent than when I used to read the print from cover to cover. However, my consumption is now more valuable and targeted as there is less waste. Invariably the metrics will catch up with consumers like in the same way that the Nielsen’s are tracking TV, radio and beyond. This composite “metric” may show some growth in these properties if someone can figure out the arithmetic.


Vin said...

Excellent point, Ed! Something I need to add and specify in my future speeches.

The number of subscribers to the whole New York Times will decline but the number of people who subcribe to a part of the NYT will probably increase! It traditional package 'unpackages' online, but this lead to more overall users.

The overall point of my speech last week was the people are gravitating the parts they want and not using the traditional package.

Ed Keating said...

It really creates an interesting management challenge to try and coordinate all the piece parts.

It reminds me how some publishers realize the value of the API and the administration functions can be more important in the sale than the actual content coming down the pipe.