New York Times Still a Compelling Ad Platform for Studios, CEO Says

Former BBC boss Mark Thompson at an investor conference also discusses the paper's video strategy and recent challenges in China.

NEW YORK – While movie studios increasingly have used digital and social media for advertising, The New York Times can still be an attractive place for Hollywood marketers, Mark Thompson said here Tuesday.

The CEO of the New York Times Co. appeared at the 41st Annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. While the rise of digital ads has led to "some reduction in print" spending by studios, including on The New York Times, "we can make a compelling case to studios," he said.

Thompson, who previously ran U.K. public broadcaster BBC as director general, argued that the publication can be a good home for movie ads, especially if both sides focus on innovation and creativity.

Thompson also discussed the increased focus on video content on the Times' website, which covers a range of topics, including half-hour documentaries and lifestyle issues, such as cooking, with the goal of showing users that video is a routine offer across the site. He drew some chuckles from the crowd when he acknowledged that he was among those readers "obsessed" with cooking.

Mentioning his goal of offering a digital advertising plan to marketers starting next year, Thompson said the goal was to ensure "zero confusion" between advertising and editorial content.

Asked by THR about the Times' current challenges in China, Thompson said only: "We are monitoring the situation."

Chinese authorities have been withholding residence visas for reporters working for the Times in what observers believe is retaliation for investigative stories on the wealth of political leaders. The Times' Chinese-language site's news pages also have been blocked by authorities.

Twitter: @georgszalai