New York Times, India’s Times Internet experiment with GenAI advertising

By Sonali Verma


Toronto, Ontario, Canada


A couple of INMA members have told me that they are experimenting with using GenAI to come up with ideas on the creative side of marketing and advertising.

But there are two particularly interesting developments on the advertising revenue front, one from a legendary U.S. newspaper and the other from an innovative Indian publisher that is also an institution.

The first is The New York Times, which plans to use GenAI for real-time ad targeting and optimisation. 

The news publisher is building technology that will recommend where an ad campaign will perform best, based on its content. It would let The Times align the ad’s message according to where the ad is placed, allowing it to target different niche audiences. 

“This experimental product uses Generative AI to automatically align a brand or a specific campaign’s message with relevant editorial content, identifying ideal contextual environments that are unique to The Times and expanding beyond what is traditionally available for contextual targeting options,” a Times spokesperson told me.

“As a result, our new product will find audiences who are most interested in certain articles and will target them anywhere else on The Times, expanding the campaign’s reach and adding nuance to its audience targeting.”

The advertiser no longer will need to choose targeting criteria before the campaign is actually deployed — they can be chosen in real time. The technology also ensures ads will not appear adjacent to unsuitable content.

The Times is now finding advertisers that would like to beta test this technology in the second quarter of the year. Pricing will be determined later. The Times has been working on this technology for the past nine months.

The second example is from Delhi-based Times Internet, India’s biggest digital products company, which owns the largest-selling English daily in the world, The Times of India. The publisher is experimenting with an advertising chat product that interacts with the user and keeps them engaged for longer — an innovation that could allow them to charge a premium from advertisers and create sustained value for them.

Picture a banner ad on a Web site for, say, an electric vehicle. Now, imagine if you clicked on it and a chat box opened. You can ask questions about the vehicle here — e.g., how much is the range of the car, can I get it with leather seats, etc.

The company started building the product a few months ago and is still fine-tuning it.

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About Sonali Verma

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