How NYT’s Marketing Unit Achieves Journalistic Storytelling



The New York Times’ marketing unit, T Brand Studio, creates and posts native ad with an innovative journalistic approach.

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As a publication that has lived for over 160 years and won 125 Pulitzer Prizes, The New York Times stands proudly today not only for its legacy, but its innovation.

Evolving from its earliest days in print to today as a thriving media giant branching across all digital platforms, the Times’ storytelling offers some industry top practices to learn from.

Looking at NYT’s business model, the elephant in the room is how it profits as ads transition from being in the paper to being online. As paper circulation continues to decline, it has become important that legacy publications come up with innovative ideas to keep clients interested in coming back.

In 2014, the Times launched T Brand Studio, the brand marketing unit, which creates and posts paid native ad content. Since its founding days, it has been named the Best Publishing Platform by Digiday and the Hottest in Native Advertising by Adweek.

So what’s magical about T Brand Studio and how has it helped the Times? Sebastian Tomich, Global Head of Advertising and Marketing Solutions at the Times, who helped found and run T Brand Studio, says the unit’s secret lies in “making something worth paying for.”

Sebastian shared how his team incorporated journalistic storytelling approach into advertising decisions at OnBrand’s 2017 conference. “Clients don’t want ads to look like ads, so we have to turn ads into something that they will actually enjoy,” he said at the conference.

“You have to become a creative business. It’s about coming up with an idea and becoming a creative engine. But no matter the medium, we want to be true to ourselves,” Sebastian said.

And by being true to oneself, the Times is staying true to using journalistic practices.

Take some of T Brand Studio’s recent work as an example. In a collaboration with Spotify, the studio did a fact-checking of 2017’s most popular songs. In an article, “How Accurate Are 2017’s Hit Songs?” they go through some of the lines from hit songs, like Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You, and did a serious fact-check, quoting academic studies to judge how accurate the lyrics are.

In another example, the studio collaborated with Hennessy for a feature of a Miami chef, through an interactive website presentation filled with delicate photos of photos and the restaurant. At the end of the article is a call-to-action button redirecting readers to Hennessy’s website.

Time’s T Brand Studio has many more incredible ad samples that combine quality storytelling with clients’ customized desire to sell ads. And as a legacy newspaper, its willingness to try on new platforms and formats while staying true to the core of the paper has helped the Times stay relevant in turbulent times.

That’s why we are excited to welcome Sebastian to speak at our Social Media Week New York conference, which takes place at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel from April 30 to May 2. He will be joining our incredible lineup of speakers across all industries, sharing views and insights with case studies and enriching experiences tied to our 2019 global theme, “STORIES” — with great influence comes great responsibilities.

If you don’t want to miss what Sebastian has to share about advertising, secure your place at SMW New York before our 25% offer ends this Friday.

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