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NYT to push free-content future

NEW YORK: The New York Times is planning to launch a new brand campaign in the wake of its decision to put an end to TimesSelect, its large-scale experiment in paid online content.

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The demise of the pay-wall subscription is raising speculation about the viability of all paid media company endeavors, even as the Times turns its attention towards the future.

The Times Company killed the two year-old program on September 18. Executives believe that the online traffic gains from free access will allow them to sell web advertising that will ultimately make more money than the TimesSelect subscription did.

Diane McNulty, executive director of community affairs and media relations for the Times, told PRWeek that the new campaign will begin in October to reposition the Web site as it moves forward on a free basis. She did not provide details regarding the campaign.

McNulty would not project the number of new readers the site hopes to attract, but cited the “increasing dominance of online search,” noting that the site has seen an increase of 131% in unique visitors over the past two years.
“This, combined with the sheer number of new documents that will now be available,” she said via e-mail, “should translate to substantial growth.”

Billee Howard, EVP of global strategic media for Weber Shandwick, said that the end of TimesSelect does not mean that other, more niche online outlets cannot continue to charge for specialized, targeted content.

“In today’s environment, content is clearly a commodity,” she said. “And unless that content is purely super-premium and de-commoditized, people are not going to pay for it.”

This article was first published on PR Week USA

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