Circulation revenue now makes up more than half The New York Times’ total revenues, with digital subscriptions on the rise and the company’s recent Innovation Report pushing its journalists and management to drive even stronger results, according to Times senior vice president and chief consumer officer Yasmin Namini.
Ms Namini will take the stage in Sydney next month to share her expertise from her eight years in the role with the Future Forum audience.
She has just celebrated her 30 year anniversary with the company – after developing a taste for newspapers during her first part-time job as a telephone solicitor for the Baltimore Sun, aged16.
“That was my introduction to the newspaper business and I’ve never looked back,” Ms Namini said. “We used to refer to it as ‘having ink in your blood’.”
“Well, today I still have ink in my blood, but bits and bytes too!”
She has seen journalism evolve over the years and says it has been “exciting, even in the most challenging of times”.
“Like all traditional newspapers, our business model was primarily supported by advertising for over 150 years. Today, circulation revenue represents more than 50 per cent of our company’s total revenues and we have 799,000 paid digital subscribers as of the end of March 2014, in addition to more than one million print subscribers.”
The New York Times Innovation Report, leaked earlier this year, mentioned that while the Times produces great journalism, the biggest challenge is delivering it to readers.
Ms Namini said the team was “taking the findings of the Innovation Report very seriously, and we are acting with urgency, both in the newsroom and on the commercial side.”
Readership is far from declining, she adds. “Our news report is available in print, online and on mobile, and we are reaching more readers now than ever before in our 160+ year history.”
“The Innovation Report is an honest investigation of where we are and what we need to do to continue innovating digitally.”
The Times’ online paywall has been a marker of its success so far – as its subscription numbers attest. Ms Namini says the key was “many months of planning, research and very detailed focus on every aspect of execution that went into the conception and launch of our digital subscription model”.
“Of course there’s always room for improvement as the market is constantly changing, so we do regular research with our subscribers and potential subscribers and a lot of test and learn,” she says.
Native advertising is another facet of digital publishing that has divided the industry, with many embracing and others resisting.
After initially holding out, The New York Times launched its first native ad in January this year and has become something of a trailblazer in this area, with a recent interactive long form piece, Women Inmates: Why The Male Model Doesn’t Work, sponsored by Netflix and tying in with its popular series Orange is the New Black. It was particularly well-received as an example of how native ads should be done.
“The Orange is the New Black piece from Netflix is an example of the value a brand can deliver to your audience via sponsored content,” Ms Namini said.
“It stands precisely up to the bold idea that brand storytelling can be every bit as compelling as the professionally created journalism that surrounds it.”
All ‘Paid Posts’ from The New York Times are created in its T Brand Studio – the business-side content studio that has its own editorial department that works with brands to create compelling sponsored content.
“Good native advertising means marketers must identify themselves, tell the truth and add value to the conversation,” she explains.
“Value means not just giving consumers the best information possible, but presenting it in a way that is informative, engaging, or entertaining; in a way that advances their understanding of and appreciation for a topic.”
The one thing that hasn’t changed, Ms Namini says, is the Times’ commitment to quality journalism and the journalistic mission of its news and editorial departments.
“Great journalistic values are as important as ever to the commercial success of The Times,” she says. “Consumers have so many choices today.
“I feel very strongly that the journalism we produce every day, in all forms print and digital, is as important, if not more important, than ever.”
For more news from The Newspaper Works, click here.