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New York Times' T Brand eyes expanded role

News, 21 July 2017
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NEW YORK: T Brand Studio, the internal content marketing agency at the New York Times, could assume external media planning and buying for brands, according to a senior executive.

Three years after its launch, Sebastian Tomich, SVP advertising and innovation at the New York Times and head of T Brand Studio, told The Drum that the Studio is “absolutely evolving to function more like a creative agency”. What’s more, he is confident that the Times can go “up against” ad agencies for client projects and win.

While the publisher knows it can put together quality content “a lot cheaper than a traditional creative agency could”, Tomich believes there is also potential for the Times to step on media agencies’ toes.

“This is a new area that I see publisher studios beginning to play in,” he said. “We are starting to get into this business now and it’s where we will start to go head-to-head with [media] agencies.”

For instance, should they develop a content strategy for a client, “in the case of distribution we may choose … let’s say Vogue or GQ is a better fit than distributing it on the New York Times and we have to be okay with that, because in an agency model we have to be neutral, because we are not selling our media”.

Notably, he added that T Brand Studio is already engaged in some of these contracts.

The direction follows an editorial angle that many brands have had to adopt as the mantra of ‘content is king’ has taken hold. Crucially, advice from one of the most famous newsrooms in the world is an incredibly valuable service.

“Brands, more and more, if you go in and meet with them and talk about how they are structuring their teams, are thinking like newsrooms,” Tomich explained.

While the Times does not currently have any ongoing client deals, and is not planning to get into “pitching for large creative agency-of -record contracts”, the groundwork for a more comprehensive offer to brand is being laid .

The Times has also been acquiring skills that can boost its unique skillset, such as the experiential agency Fake Love, which it acquired last August, in order to amplify its AR and VR capability for ad products. In March of the same year, the paper also bought influencer marketing agency Hello Society.

Data sourced from Digiday, The Drum, AdWeek; additional content from WARC staff

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