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February 18, 2005

NYTimes.com purchase of About.com –it’s all about the people

By Charlene Li

There’s been quite a bit of coverage about how NYTimes.com’s purchase ofAbout.com signals a new “blogging” and participatory journalism strategy for the Gray Old Lady. Great coverage (and call) on Paid Content.

But I think there’s more to it than just a publishing strategy. One of the biggest problems the Times and other leading online publishers have is the availability good inventory that their advertising are willing to buy. As the online ad market has grown, user growth has not kept up – the result being prime real estate on lucrative areas like Travel and Auto are scarce and mighty expensive.

Enter About.com, with its 22 million visitors who are focused on very specific topics that are interesting to advertisers. While About.com today leverages Google’s AdSense, it can now also tap into the display and brand advertisers that NYTimes.com can provide.

More importantly, I expect that NYTimes.com, Boston.com, and About.com will tie together their use of Tacoda’s behavioral profiling (both are already clients of Tacoda), thus allowing them even greater ability to track specific profiles across the sites. So if a user visiting auto pages on About.com later visits NYTimes.com to read international news, NYTimes.com will still be able to provide an advertiser like Ford access to a car enthusiast.

So in the end, I think that NYTimes’ real benefit from the purchase will be that it gets access to these people – and their behavioral profiles -- who would otherwise be unavailable to them. As I mentioned in my post yesterday about the evolution of search and online advertising, these profiles will form the foundation for targeted, intent-oriented advertising in the future.


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Ed Cone

Would you contact me please for an article I'm writing for Ziff Davis?

Richard Wilson

If you look at the marriage of the two organizations, you provide additional access and content to both sets of customers. Advertisers for both customer sets will benefit from new access to online and off-line formats as well as new advertising economies of scale.


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