NYT Sells Its First Sole-Sponsorship Of iPad App To Ralph Lauren

The NYT iPad app typically runs ads from about six different marketers in a given month. But in September, all the app’s ad inventory will be handed over to high end fashion label Ralph Lauren for the company’s Polo brand. This is the first time the NYT iPad app has been offered to a single-sponsor for an entire month. Since most of the app’s content beyond the main news section is behind a paywall, the NYT will “unlock” five sections so non-subscribers can view all the ads.

The five sections which will be completely free for viewing are Fashion & Style, Travel, Home & Garden, T Magazine and Sports.

In addition, on September 15, Polo Ralph Lauren will be live streaming its runway show within an expandable ad in the app.

The NYT wouldn’t discuss CPMs for the iPad app or how much it charges the six advertisers it typically features in a given month. However, given the demand from advertisers to appear in the app — in July, the NYT has said that app’s ad inventory was sold out through Q3 — and the insistence that the NYT doesn’t grant discounts to marketers, it’s likely that the Ralph Lauren ad takeover is equivalent to a normal monthly run. It’s conceivable that the NYT could charge a little bit more for a monthly run, given the value of an uncluttered environment.

About 2.5 million users have downloaded the iPad app since its debut in April 2010, an NYT rep told paidContent. (The NYT iPhone app, which is about three years old, has been downloaded more than 7 million times, the company said in July). Also, the NYT says that there are currently 850,000 unique monthly users of the app. The company has not released monthly usage numbers before for the app.

During the company’s last earnings report, NYTCo (NYSE: NYT) executives said that paid digital subscribers to the interactive packages totaled roughly 224,000 as of the end of Q2. In addition, paid digital subs to “e-readers and replica editions” totaled approximately 57,000, for a total paid digital subscribers of 281,000 when June ended.

Although the NYTimes.com is where the most of the traffic and ad revenues are generated, the digital apps have been a key part of attracting more subscribers. And the print-like experience is considered more valuable to advertisers, and the interactivity that comes with the ads makes it a best of both worlds combination.

The NYT’s Media News Group, which houses the flagship paper and its related apps, could use a bit of a boost. the company had warned that advertisers were pulling pack this past year due to the weaker economy. The recent volatility in the stock market the past few weeks probably haven’t helped marketers’ confidence. Still, it did say that national display ad sales remained strong through the summer.

But with the fall fashions coming, marketers will need to spend heavily and the NYT has made sure to continue to court high end ad spenders.