Today, for the first time, The New York Times is featuring a single HTML5 interactive ad campaign across its digital platforms. Coca-Cola is running the ads — an extension of its Arctic Home campaign and its long use of polar bears this time of year — not only on NYTimes.com, but also on the Times’ iPhone and iPod Touch apps, and on the iPad’s Safari browser. And the ads are consistent (though not identical) across those platforms.
That’s not a huge deal in the scheme of digital advertising, but it’s noteworthy from the perspective of ad coordination, particularly at large news organizations whose content — and audiences — are increasingly distributed across several different, and differently formatted, digital spaces.
Big brands “grapple a lot with how to deal with messaging across platforms,” notes Denise Warren, the SVP and chief advertising officer of The New York Times Media Group and the general manager of NYTimes.com. A campaign like Coke’s, she told me, which leveraged the skills of the Times’ tech team as well as its ad-sales staff to create message consistency despite platform diversity, tries to tackle that challenge. It tries to offer one-stop-shopping for marketers who want to reach all of a news outlet’s audience, regardless of the tools the members of that audience use to consume their content.
For animated messages, in particular — and we’ll likely see more of those as marketers make their own adaptation to new digital capabilities — that kind of cross-platform functionality will likely involve even more collaboration between advertisers and news organizations. In this case, the Times adapted the creative that Coke provided — taking the Flash ad that Coke had built and translating its animation to multi-platform-friendly HTML5. “I really do think that that’s the kind of stuff that publishers like us need to do,” Warren says, “in order to super-serve our clients in a way that’s meaningful.”
Flash has long been the favored tool for interactive ads on the desktop, but its inability to work on most mobile devices has been a roadblock for greater coordination across platforms. Last week’s announcement that development of Flash for mobile was being shut down has made it more clear than ever that cross-platform integration will happen through HTML5.
Another aspect of serving clients, Warren notes, is having lots of information about how users actually consume the news within different consumption environments. And the Times’ pay meter — which pushes user registration and the connection of print and digital accounts — has been a help in that regard. “What we’re developing with our pay model is a much deeper understanding of our audience across platforms,” Warren notes. Combine user data with tech prowess, and that’s a powerful sales pitch. Using the two, Warren says, “we believe that we’re going to be able to uniquely serve our advertisers’ needs, as a result, in a deeper and richer way.”