The New York Times, which last May made a move – albeit reluctantly – toward programmatic media selling with the hire of the company’s first director of programmatic advertising, Matt Prohaska, seems to have backtracked.
Prohaska’s position, AdExchanger has learned, has been discontinued as of Tuesday afternoon. Prohaska was not available for comment.
It is unclear as of publication time what this means for the future of the Times' nascent programmatic ad practice, which Prohaska had been hired to oversee. Specifically, he supervised the Times' global programmatic and indirect revenue in display, search, text mobile and video.
Within two weeks of his hiring, Prohaska told AdExchanger that the Times had struck five deals with advertisers interested in accessing its inventory programmatically.
But the Times has always had a tense relationship with the concept of programmatic media buying, feeling it lets advertisers bid down the price of inventory. In its recent Q4 earnings call, company CFO James Follo blamed the Times' digital advertising challenges partly on “programmatic buying issues, which led to pressure on ad rates, as well as some additional pricing pressures caused by the glut of traditional ad inventory.”
The Times has lately been in an experimental mood with the way it sells and presents ads. At AdExchanger’s Industry Preview in January, Michael Zimbalist, the company’s VP of research and development operations, espoused the newspaper’s efforts to incorporate native ads. And certainly the hiring of Prohaska seemed to indicate a willingness to tinker with programmatic ad buying.
Whether that experiment is over, or simply set back, remains to be seen.
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