Follo spoke generally about the Times’ immediate and future advertising outlook.
“April got off to a challenging start and we don’t expect to benefit from the momentum we saw in the first quarter,” he said, adding that April is a five-week month and hasn’t closed yet. Additionally, Q2 has traditionally been the Times’ weakest quarter. “April is challenging, May less so,” Follo said. “It’s a blend of a number of different factors.”
Meredith Kopit Levien, the Times’ EVP of advertising, said this blend limits the publisher’s visibility and ability to confidently project, which is why it has a cautious outlook. “It’s hard to string the information together and call it a pattern yet,” she said.
Thompson insisted the Times continues to see “positive trends in advertising” despite this volatility. For instance, the Times hopes to drive significant advertising revenue from some of its new ad products, such as its native advertising units Paid Posts and Mobile Paid Posts, which debuted on the recently released NYT Now, a mobile app featuring editors’ daily selections of major stories.
Levien added the Times’ future advertising product development will continue its focus on digital and mobile, taking advantage of the data the publisher has on its affluent audience that consumes content across multiple platforms.
Circulation revenues also increased 2.1%, in large part because of an uptick in paying digital-only subscribers, which total 799,000; this is 39,000 more from Q4 2013.
What drove this growth? The Times listed three drivers: Its experimentation with different promotional offers, growth from emerging segments (international, corporate and education in particular) and a focus on optimizing its marketing message.