The NYT is preparing to debut its own daily deals service called TimesLimited later this month. While a number of newspaper publishers have signed on with either Groupon or LivingSocial, TimesLimited is entirely an in-house production, Denise Warren, SVP/chief advertising officer for the NYT Media Group and the NYTimes.com’s GM, told paidContent in an interview.
The NYT had considered going the route that other newspaper companies like Tribune, McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) and Media General (NYSE: MEG) have gone in by partnering with Groupon. “We looked at partner options when we began looking at the space a few months ago,” Warren said. “But we realized that we have the assets, the consumer reach and the relationships with the advertisers to do this on our own.”
Warren also highlighted some of the contrasts between TimesLimited and group deal sites. For one thing, TimesLimited will be aiming a little more upscale and a more “curated experience” than the more general offerings of other sites.
Over the past few days, TimesLimited was quietly being sent to print subscribers and registered users emails. The service will debut in the New York area with others to follow. “Right now, we’re building our e-email list and making sure we have users permission and interest,” Warren said. She declined to say what specific advertising partners or categories of marketer had agreed to participate in the launch at the end of the month.
While this is deeper dive into e-commerce, the NYT, like most media companies, has been moving in this direction for a while.
In addition to the NYT Wine Club that was unveiled in the summer of ’09 (the WSJ had one first), the NYT has other e-mail-based marketing programs, including the Sophisticated Shopper, which offers readers “an inside look at exclusive luxury shopping deals, and Great Getaways, which spotlights “last-minute retreats, vacation packages and exclusive travel destinations.”
The difference with those two offerings and TimesLimited is that Shopper and Getaways are “more CPM-based,” Warren said, while the forthcoming program is singularly e-commerce.
Earlier this morning, the NYTCo (NYSE: NYT) offered an update of its Q1 outlook, saying that print advertising has improved. The rush to e-commerce that many publishers began plotting had a lot to do with the lingering fears of the ad recession. When ad spending started coming back, publishers realized that they needed to take the opportunity to build an additional revenue stream, one that would help support advertising, which is still much weaker than it was before the downturn.
The prepping of TimesLimited also comes as the NYTimes.com is readying its metered paywall. In the Q1 update, CEO Janet Robinson said that the pay model is in the “final testing phase.” This past weekend, Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Kindle subscribers received a reminder that the price e-paper version of the NYT would increase from $14.99/month to $19.99/month effective March 1st. It was lowered back in October for a holiday discount.
Aside from the paid content plans, Warren didn’t want to speculate as to what sort of percentage e-commerce might comprise in the company’s revenue pie. But it is becoming more important. “We just think revenue diversity is a good thing,” she said. “And it’s a natural extension of what we already do.”