Wednesday, September 5, 2012

NYT updates its iPhone news app to add in banner ad slot, goes out of their way to make that change quietly

The New York Times today updated its main news app for the iPhone, adding in a banner ad while keeping the focus of the update pretty quiet.

NYTimes for iPhone is, of course, part of the trilogy of digital products that make up the NYT's digital subscription offerings (online, mobile and tablets). Because of this, readers now must pay to have complete access to any of the digital platforms and, hence, are less receptive to advertising intruding on their reading experience.

Notice what's different?
It is probably because of this that the NYT's app description for NYTimes for iPhone is complete devoid of any mention of what the update is about, though some reviewers have already figured it out.

Advertising is, of course, vital still to most newspaper's business strategy. But it is safe to say that both editorial and digital teams tend to be more than a bit queazy whenever the subject of advertising comes up.

One could complain that the new banner ad, located along the bottom of the home page, will take up too much real estate. But a new iPhone with a slightly larger (longer) display would result in about the same amount of space dedicated to editorial content.

In fact, the ad banner added is 640 x 100 in size. The current iPhone has a display that is 640 x 960 pixels, while the new iPhone is rumored to sport a display 640 x 1136 in size. As you can see, the new iPhone will be adding 176 pixels in height so the end result would be that the reader will see more, not less, real estate for news content on the iPhone 5, even with the addition of the banner ad.