The Woman Behind the New York Times’ High-Risk, High-Reward Business Strategy

Meredith Kopit Levien, chief operating officer of the New York Times

a deal: the $14 million, 15-month commitment included Samsung “360” cameras distributed to hundreds of Times reporters, as well as heaps of ad space. The resulting 360 videos got prominent placement, some on the home page, and they carried a credit for Samsung.

.. It is the kind of nontraditional pact that Ms. Levien, who became chief operating officer last year, has pursued as she tries to steer the Times through unforgiving waters in publishing.

Through the Samsung deal and others with the likes of General Electric Co. and BMW AG , the 47-year-old executive is upending the Times century-old ad sales strategy, shifting away from one-off ad placements of the low-six-figure variety, in favor of more elaborate and lucrative deals that resemble corporate partnerships.

.. It’s worth it, she said, because the old ad business—which she describes as selling rectangles of ad space in the paper or on the website—“is just falling away.”
.. Last year, the Times’ revenue grew 7.7%, powered by a run of digital subscription sales tied largely to interest in politics and the Trump era.
..  it wasn’t enough to offset weakness in print that resulted in a nearly 4% contraction in overall ad revenue.
.. The Times has been among the most aggressive outlets at pitching nontraditional ad deals, advertising executives said.
.. she joined the Times in 2013 as head of advertising. At the time, the seemingly inexorable decline of print advertising wasn’t the paper’s only problem; digital-ad revenue was dropping, too.
.. Ms. Levien quickly rose to chief revenue officer.
Although the ad-sales group has grown to around 500 people from 350, fewer than 100 of them work in conventional ad-sales roles.
.. They’re now working on a partnership that could involve a sponsored video or podcast series reflecting Principal’s expertise on people’s financial behavior.
.. She and her team sat in on an editorial meeting to see “how the sausage is made.” Bringing an advertiser to a news-planning meeting isn’t typical in mainstream news organizations
Mr. Baquet says the Times opens up its meeting to various outsiders, including advertisers, from time to time.

.. After the initial Samsung 360 deal ended, the two sides got to work on a new deal that would involve displaying a New York Times news briefing on Samsung smart TVs that are in Ambient Mode