Janet Robinson, president and CEO of the New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT), gave the audience at Goldman Sach’s Internet Conference an overview of the company’s “strides” on the digital side. Among a string of stats, she pointed out that the company took in $330 million in digital revenue. But the issue of price realization for its online properties compared to its traditional print business was picked up by Martin Nisenholtz, SVP, digital operations. One issue Nisenholtz hammered home was the abundance of inventory coming from social networks, which has driven prices down.
— Changing pricing dynamic: Does the migration of print audiences and ad dollars to the web result in a zero sum game? Nisenholtz: It’s not just about print migrating to online, it’s all media. It’s hard to discuss the print revenue streams and the online streams on a linear basis, as these are new businesses. How you compare to a newspaper print ad to an online ad is difficult. The display business at NYT.com is a big part of the revenues. We’re seeing tremendous amount of inventory getting created, mostly from social networks. And they’re being monetized at very low rates. At the other extreme is a highly customized inventory. And that’s what you see at NYT.com. You see Apple’s (NSDQ: AAPL) ads on our homepage. Those are very high rates campaigns and you can see at one-to-one rate compared to print. Asked about the growth of its newspaper ad alliance, QuadrantOne, Nisenholtz said it was too early to say. Lots more after the jump…
— Influenced by Yahoo: Picking up from a point Robinson made about the early digital moves NYTCo did, Nisenholtz said that a primary influence on its online activity came from watching what Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) was doing. “They had developed a pretty good movies area, and it’s still good. And that was any area we dominated in print. When we created the movies channel, we didn’t just repurpose our content, but we included our entire database, to buying tickets. We’re surrounding out content with tools that enhance the advertiser and user experience.”
— Times Select and the paid model: Robinson: As search became more dominant, we took down the pay wall associated with Times Select and sold advertising around our archives. As a result, uniques have grown 40 percent and pageviews were up 20 percent. Can’t rule out the paid model for premium content. We’re in a unique position where we can do both.
— The death of print classifieds: Robinson: They’re here now, but it’s hard to predict what the format will be going forward. With jobs, we’ve partnered with Monster.com. Real estate is another strong area on the web, but auto category doesn’t have a clear leader on the web at this point. The Times is not dependent on classified. The diversifiaction of the advertising base is our strength. Martin: We own 14 percent in jobs listings aggregator Indeed, it’s the fourth largest jobs site, he added in response to the Goldman moderator’s assertion about the site’s lack of traction.
— About’s display weakness: Part of the reason for the margin compression at About was a choice we made to going from relying on remnant inventory — which is like shooting fish in a barrel — to more premium advertising. It used to be that display growth was taken for granted. You have to work for it now. One reason that eMarketer lowered its social net forecast is due to the abundance of inventory.
— Acquisitions: The company is still looking for purchases in a number of vertical categories. In some ways, the dismal economy has some benefits for its acquisition plans. Robinson: Valuations are still quite heavy and the economy has tamped those down somewhat. I think we developed a reputation after buying About that we don’t change the companies we buy, we support them.