NY Times is using VR to augment it’s digital Monetization Strategy

The New York Time Company is once again leading in using emerging technology to deliver it’s high quality journalism. The new announcement is part of creating a unique Digital News product that further strengthens the NY Time’s multiple digital monetization model.

Last year, at the Digitas’s NewFronts conference in April 2015, The New York Times announced the first VR content, with the launch of Walking New York VR film, that it developed in partnership with VRSE, a VR development company.

Last week, This NY Times Co, announced how it will be producing more VR (Virtual Reality) content and highlighting the Film VR project called Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart.

The film was screened at the Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Film Festival in NYC on April 13-24, 2016.   The film is a stereoscopic VR experience that transports the viewers to the furthest celestial and dwarf planet, Pluto. The camera, mounted on the New Horizons spacecraft travels to Pluto and soars over rugged mountains and bright plains, giving the viewer a first persons experience to stand on Pluto’s unique surface as its largest moon hovers over the horizon.

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The New York Times and Google partnered to deliver Google Cardboard VR Viewers to it’s most loyal digital subscribers.

In partnership with Google, NY Times Co, has distributed to its 1.1 million subscribers a free Google Cardboard head-mounted display (HMD), since October 2015. The cardboard displays can be bought online for as little as US$15, or you can order more robust plastic versions for the same price of up to $US39.95.  You can check out the selection and order online by visiting the Google viewer store. If you don’t happen to live in the US, or are more of a craft person, you can follow the instructions here and you can make your own at home.

To watch the content, you need to use the NYT VR App, available for iOS and Android.  The Times says NYT VR has been downloaded more than 600,000 times since it’s launch in 2015.

The strategy seems to be a smart way to retain and reward long term digital subscribers.  A smart way to reduce churn and continue growing their digital revenue streams, which today accounts for 53% vs 47% from Paid Advertising. Digital subscriptions have remained a bright spot for the company, showing robust growth, in contrast to low margin web advertising.

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People at the Tribeca Film Festival  2016 watching a VR films. Credit: Benjamin Norman, The New York Times.

 

The NY Times Co,  chief revenue officer, Meredith Levien, said mobile advertising now makes up about 20% of digital ad revenue, which came in at $36.5 million, or about 10% of overall revenue.

NY Times Co, has also created a Lab, that will work on developing branded content, allowing Advertisers to create high engagement ad units – a first in New Digital Publishing.

NY Times Co, is planning to continue launch various VR episodic’s in the comings months and will surely be a successful strategy in continuing to augment the NY Times Co, subscription product.

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