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Sign of the Times: In trouble New York Times undergoing digital transformation to gain ad sales

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 31st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It's a sign of the times: The print industry is in a losing war with the immediacy of digital media, readers flocking to the internet and not to their daily newspaper for information. One of America's most venerable print institutions, The New York Times has suffered a three percent in advertising revenue - and is now racing to join the electronic bandwagon.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Internet competitors such as Internet search engine Google and social media site Facebook devour large chunks of marketers' budgets.

Some analysts point out that the new York Times hasn't yet capitalized on its surging online audience. Newspapers worldwide are suffering from advertising woes. It would stand to reason that the New York Times prestige, elite readership should be giving it a leg up over other publications.

"The Times' ad business reflects what's happening in the industry, which is down altogether," Rick Edmonds, a media analyst with the Poynter Institute said. "And if the Times is making deep cuts in the ad department, that could be affecting the quality of their ad sales."

There is increasing low morale  at the newspaper. As many as a dozen sales executives have left. Budgets have kept sales reps from offering free Times subscriptions to clients, which at one time was a standard part of doing business.

"The Times has performed well in what has been a very difficult advertising climate over the past several years, however, I believe we have the opportunity to make further improvements," Chief Executive Officer Mark Thompson said in an email. Thompson took the helm at the Times last year after a career at the British Broadcasting Corp. "We will invest new funds in our sales force, both in personnel and in the technology we need to succeed."

However - the turnover among the Times' sales executives is hindering recovery. The times is offering an early-retirement buyout to account managers and sales staff, creating uncertainty among employees.

Most of The New York Times revenue now comes from readers, not advertisers, which is a reversal from historical patterns. The 162-year-old publisher is now racing to make up for falling ad sales.

Having sold off its assets unrelated to its New York Times media brand, the company also has a diminished bag of tricks to pull with its financial results. The paper has lost more than half a billion dollars in ad sales since 2000, when it generated $1.3 billion. The figure stood at a withering $711 million last year.

More importantly, the company also hasn't adequately invested in the sales staff, making it harder to compete at a time when print media is losing ad dollars to the Internet.

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