Move over, BuzzFeed and Gawker.

The New York Times is joining you in the branded content bakeoff.

From Advertising Age:

New York Times Weaves Custom Ads Into ‘Snow Fall’-Like ‘The Jockey’

‘This Time We Learned From Our Mistakes’

“The Jockey,” The New York Times’ new 10,000-word profile of horse racing legend Russell Baze, will draw comparisons to “Snow Fall” for its immersive web design and multimedia elements. But unlike “Snow Fall,” where awkwardly inserted standard ads disrupted a lavish account of a deadly avalanche, “The Jockey” features custom ad units designed to better fit the new environment . . .

“Snow Fall” carried standard ad units that were not custom built for the story, clunky additions to a slick feature. After its publication, the Times’ business side said it planned to work with advertisers on custom ads for these types of stories in the future.

The Ad Age piece notes that “[Sponsor BMW] didn’t initially know when it would be published, what it would look like, or even exactly how the ads would render.”

Then again, “[BMW] did know the story’s subject, which was one of the reasons it decided to buy the ads, according Tom Penich, media communications manager, BMW North America. Horse racing ties into an overall performance theme that BMW is trying to capture, Mr. Penich said.”

And so “‘The Jockey’ includes a persistent BMW logo atop the story and ads that render as readers reach the end of the story’s chapters. The ads do not offer ‘Snow Fall’-like interactivity within the story; they open a new tab or window if readers click on them.”


The bottom (racing) line is that the Times is now tailoring its editorial content to suit advertising objectives.

A photo finish to the end of journalistic integrity.


John R. Carroll is media analyst for NPR's Here & Now and senior news analyst for WBUR in Boston. He also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town.
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