Feeling It: How NYT Targets Emotional Context
2019 Winner

Feeling It: How NYT Targets Emotional Context

The New York Times

New York, United States

Category Advertising Sales and Retention

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

Our Data Science team built out "Project Feels" - its crowdsourced data and algorthm methodology - with the goal of defining a new dimension of context: emotion. Project Feels enabled us to create multiple ad products that action on this context, creating a consumer-friendly targeting tool.

Perspective Targeting (PT) draws on a small anonymous truth set, and its algorithms target content - not people - to bring innovation without invasiveness. Marketers can target ads to content we predict will evoke an array of sentiments like self-confident or adventurous, creating a better adjacency for their message and better relevance for our users.

We have also extended these algorithms to create Neutrality Targeting (NT), where marketers can exclude content we predict could evoke negative feelings, like sadness or fear. NT offers an original type of brand safety at a moment where marketers are unsure which environments they can trust.

In combination, PT and NT meet three key objectives: a brand new type of contextual targeting for differential performance gains; a privacy-forward and consumer-friendly targeting tool; and an instrument for controlling their message’s precise environment.

As a few examples, we had:

  • A television client target “adventurous” to align with the launch of their sci-fi series
  • A CSR campaign target “self confident” for a message centered on women’s empowerment
  • A jewelry brand targeting multiple emotions, each to match distinct messages and products

Results for this campaign

Most directly, PT-targeted media drove seven figures in direct digital ad revenue* in 2H 2018 across more than 30 campaigns in a dozen distinct sales categories. We take this as strong evidence that PT can not only deliver near-term revenue but also meet a persistent, widespread market need for sophisticated contextual solutions.

Individually, advertisers who have used Feels have seen CTRs up to 1.8x their own targeting benchmarks (e.g. vs behavioral targeting alone). We have seen especially strong results for categories or campaigns where a clear emotion underlies the creative, such as in TV and film entertainment.

PT has driven incremental spend from existing clients, improved performance with some of our longstanding brand partners, and attracted and won entirely new business.  

These products are also resonating in our strategic conversations with marketers about their future needs and business risks. Brands fear diminishing ROI on audience-targeted media as privacy regulations expand, and/or they are seeking more ways to drive incremental performance, having exhausted the abilities of audience targeting. Feels and PT answer this need.

This is also new in the industry. Other publishers can use DFP capabilities or third party segments: these are par for the course. No other publisher has brought the combination of creativity, data rigor and technical sophistication to the problem of ad targeting. This is only our first step in the direction of mining our best asset as a publisher - our unique, complex, and engaging content - to provide privacy-safe and highly effective targeting.

*Please note: as a public company we cannot publish this revenue data beyond submission 


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