The rapid-fire decisions keep coming at The New York Times Company. And not a moment too soon.
We see that the Times has decided to put the International Herald Tribune website to sleep, a slumber that makes a lot of sense. Back in June, the Times had signaled the change, but now it's going to happen.
As I wrote then ("Finally, the Times Moves to Re-Brand the IHT (In Part) ), it's a long-overdue move. We can cite several good, supporting reasons, but there's one that looms larger and larger: The Times needs to leverage its best-in-the-business brand worldwide, to greatly pump up the amount of revenue it is driving from outside the US.
Only about 4% of Times Company revenues come from outside the US currently, the company says. Just think about it: there are about twice as many English speakers outside the US as in in it, 900 million worldwide. As we see the Guardian, the BBC and the Economist all making US inroads, we can see that the Atlantic is a mere historical pond. Well-educated, higher-income English speakers from Manchester to Mumbai to Melbourne are all potential readers these days.
The opportunity's been there, but the maturation of the web makes them much more gettable, by desktop, cell phone and soon, TV. Most importantly, there's at least one other company that sees the same potential: the Times' new archnemesis, Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp. He's pushing together his business brands -- Wall Street Journal, Marketwatch, Barrons -- driving efficiencies and distribution, and soon he'll connect those dots among newspaper and cable/satellite properties worldwide.
One key part of this puzzle is optimizing the monetization of non-American readers. Vivian Schiller, NYT.com GM, estimates that 18-20% of the the NYT.com site's readers come from outside the country. Serving them the right ads -- targeting by their interests (behavioral targeting) as well as their hometowns -- will be key in wringing out new revenue. I think we're closer to the beginning of that process, but the IHT decision is one step in getting there.
Mark Potts provides some good IHT history, here
More Content Bridges on NYT, here