Skip to main content

NYT Sells (Out?) Content to Facebook: Digital Myopia?

NYT Sells (Out?) Content to Facebook: Digital Myopia?

TThis week, the New York Times (NYT) signed a deal with Facebook to distribute instant articles through Facebook’s news feed. The NYT is sacrificing audience for ad revenue. Could this be a case of “digital myopia”? Is NYT making a mistake by defining its business as content distribution instead of the audience trust?

In 1960, Theodore Levitt coined the term “Marketing Myopia.” His main point was that businesses will do better in the end if they concentrate on meeting customers’ needs rather than on selling products. Levitt introduced the famous question, “What business are you really in?” And with it the claim that, had railroad executives seen themselves as being in the transportation business rather than the railroad business, they would have continued to grow.

This deal has all the symptoms of modern “marketing myopia.” The NYT in concert with five major publications (BuzzFeed, NBC News, and NatGeo are said to be also joining the rollout) are giving up “audience” control in exchange of the distribution and monetization of their content. While the deal allows the NYT to keep all the consumer data, nothing guarantees Facebook from changing the rules down the road. They have done it in the past. Facebook becomes the gatekeeper of the audience and NYT becomes just another provider of content.

On a positive note, you have to give credit the NYT for trying something new. They have been bleeding. The NYT app has not worked as expected. The Times gave up on charging $8 a month for its mobile news app, NYT Now, making it free in hopes of attracting more users and, ultimately, more ad revenue. This new Facebook deal opens the door to the nearly half of American Internet users who get their news about politics and government on Facebook, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted last year.The NYT is also limiting this experience to 5 articles per week. Perhaps this is inevitable and the NYT doesn’t have much of a choice?

I get that the NYT doesn’t necessarily have a better option. But they need to focus on services, not content. Audience trust, not content, is the scare resource. If the NYT is in the audience trust business, maybe it could consider packaging and selling its content to businesses for decision making in a similar way that Bloomberg and Reuters do today? The NYT could become a provider of data and analysis for social, economic and political issues. This does not mean that the newspaper side won’t continue to exist. It just means that advertising and newspaper subscriptions are not the only way to monetize and survive in this digital economy.


  1. I’m a mother! I chose the sleepSEE nonsurgical vision correction system for my son. It provides Joe with clear and comfortable vision. And as a mother, I’m completely satisfied with sleepSEE! lenses for kid


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How Cool Brands Stay Hot: Aim for Love, Not Likes

Love is an unconditional emotion while like is a more watered-down version of love. Loving someone means that he or she means everything to you while liking someone implies that you are only happy being with that person. Love involves deeper, stronger emotions, while like is more of a tender feeling towards that special someone. In a world of infinite choices, love is everything. Like is a nice to have.  Today, we live in a world of abundance, where people intent to create content surpass their time to consume it. Video content is much easier and cheaper to produce than at any other time in history. YouTube sees 400 hours of video uploaded every minute. Facebook has more than 250,000 status updates in the same span. We could never read and see everything online.  With unlimited possibilities and limited time, we pay sustainable attention to what we love and divided attention to what we like. We spend hours watching Homeland and give our divided attention to our news feed on Facebook. …

Persuasive Simplicity, Persuasive Commerce

In a complex world, simplicity wins. In a human world, purpose sets us apart. In a complex and human world, we need persuasive simplicity to survive. Persuasive simplicity is putting simplicity in the path of motivation. It is simplicity with purpose. The Perfect Machine Today we are entrenched in a performance-marketing race. We want to make commerce as efficient as possible. We want to build the perfect commerce machine—one that knows what we like, hate, love, and need. A precise machine that doesn't spoil us with too many choices.  A nimble machine that delivers goods in hours, not days or weeks. A frictionless machine where we can order in one click, one button, one voice order, anytime, anywhere. A cost-effective machine that guarantees the best price. This machine sounds a lot like,,, and The Human World
These days, we navigate life through search. We search to eat, to learn, to travel, to date, and to find work. We search during the moments that matter on our mobile devices. Search gives us super powers. Search makes us faster and smarter, but it also gives us a taste of our average. Search engines push content based on our consumption behavior or people “like us" behavior. We have gotten trapped in the limitations of algorithmic recommendations. No surprise from discovering something we loved but didn’t expect. We watch the movies that we are supposed to watch. We dine at the restaurants that we are presumed to dine. We shop where we are expected to shop. To escape the tyranny of the average, we follow the few brave souls that are breaking the mold. People willing to defy the norm and become the tastemaker of their destiny. They are the new curators in this age of abundance. We call them influencers. They give us a search result that is imperfect, irrational, unexpected, but m…