New York Times points to combined subscriptions-ad strategy in public statement

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


The New York Times Company issued a press release in August regarding its second quarter 2022 results.

As part for the narrative, Meredith Kopit Levien, president and chief executive officer, said: 

“Our second quarter results demonstrate that we are making palpable progress on our (subscription) strategy. In the quarter, we brought in 180,000 net digital-only subscribers and saw a 70% increase in net digital-only subscriber additions relative to the second quarter of 2021. 

“With continued strength in converting new subscribers, and an increasingly valuable product portfolio including a breadth of new offerings in games and The Athletic, we are well on our way to achieving our next mile marker of 15 million subscribers by 2027.” 

An example of advertising on The New York Times Web site based on user first-party data.
An example of advertising on The New York Times Web site based on user first-party data.

Impressive. But something else she said also stood out for me with my INMA Advertising Initiative hat on: 

“We are (also) confident in our advertising approach, which is grounded in the market leading suite of first-party data and premium ad products, that our subscription-first strategy enables.” 

Very often, some argue it’s an either/or with ads and subscriptions, that they are mutually exclusive. 

They are not.

As The New York Times has so many subscribers, it has a huge amount of first-party data it can then use to target ads for advertisers, which in turn, gives it a market advantage as advertisers get smarter and more “precision” based on their wanted contextual, personalised targeting of sometimes, very niche audiences.

And, to add to the above, it was announced recently that the NYT is planning to increase its advertising business across its bundled products, e.g. sports and games.

Over the past decade, the NYT has pivoted its strategy to focus on attracting more consumer revenue via subscriptions. Now that it’s reached a near critical mass of those subscribers, it further sees a big opportunity to build more tailored ad products that cater to those users. 

NYT now has more than 1 million subscribers for both its games and cooking apps and over 9 million paid subscribers total across all of its subscription packages.

Big, but a small percentage of the 135 million that engage with the Times’ content monthly for free via its ad-supported products.

“A big part of the Times’ ad expansion strategy scaling up the company’s premium/proprietary ad offerings across the whole subscription bundle over the next couple of years” — so said Alex Hardiman, head of product at the NYT.

A focus will be figuring out how to expand the Times’ ad-targeting and optimisation capabilities using the first-party data it collects from its users.

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About Mark Challinor

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