Maybe it’s the old-fashioned New York newspaper war with the WSJ, or perhaps it’s just that the race among lifestyle apps is heating up right now, but the NYT has chosen now as the right time to release its own city guide for the iPhone called The Scoop NYC. Unlike general city guides, this one promises a special set of NYT dining and entertainment reporters’ special picks of where to eat and drink and what events to check out. The free app also represents more media usage of Foursquare, which has made sure users can check in via most major outlets by this point. The NYTimes.com and Foursquare initially partnered during the winter Olympics, so this is essentially an expansion of that relationship.
The new app should help maintain its strong relationship with the city’s local luxury retailers, who have found themselves in the middle of a tug of war between the paper and the WSJ, which launched its New York edition last month. In keeping with the NYT’s attraction to luxury marketers, the paper’s iPad app just launched its second sponsorship campaign from Chanel for its line of J 12 Marine watches. The iPad ad runs as a static banner at the bottom of the iPad app’s front page. On the article pages, the app features a brief animation that, when touched, recreates the moment when a Star Trek character beams up, as one watch style disintegrates and morphs into one of four styles.
The Chanel campaign, which is also running on the main site, but not in the print on iPhone app, follows the $1 million Chase Sapphire launch sponsorship of NYT Editor’s Choice. No word on the ad spend for the Chanel campaign, but it’s estimated to be in the high six figures. The NYT has taken the challenge over luxury ads pretty seriously over the past few months, even creating its own ad campaign in March to remind advertisers of the value of marketing across its print and digital products.
The debut of The Scoop app is the latest among several local digital initiatives the NYT has put together over the past year. In Feb. ’09, the paper began working with Buzzmachine’s Jeff Jarvis through his citizen journalism initiative at The City University of New York, on a hyperlocal effort called The Local, which covers five neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey. For its sixth Local site, situated in NYC’s East Village area, the paper is collaborating with New York University’s journalism faculty and students through its Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. That site is expected to launch in the fall.
The Scoop is intended to go beyond just repurposing reviews and listings in the main print product. Among the special features for the app are restaurant critic Sam Sifton’s The Sifty Fifty, where in he shares his 50 favorite NYC restaurants. Similarly, The Top Shelf section is run by Dining editor Pete Wells, and has a guide to his current favorite bars. The app is rounded out by Events, which is a set of coming attractions and is updated weekly, and Only in New York, where critics, as well as editors and reporters “share the outings and experiences that define New York.”
Users can also make their own lists within the app of how many places and events they actually hit. Unfortunately, for the NYT, they won’t be able to use that info to target users, since Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) retains control of that data. Still, the NYT might be able to get a sense of what’s hot by noticing what users share via email, Facebook and Twitter, all of which can be accessed from the app.
The content of the app seems directed at younger, affluent New Yorkers that would represent the kind of target for luxury marketers. But for a new release, those high-end advertisers will probably give it some time to see if it catches on. In the meantime, the launch sponsor of The Scoop is clearly aimed at tourists, as a banner ad offering a “sneak peek” to Disney’s long-running show The Lion King appears at the bottom of the app, offering ticket sales, photos and videos from the play.