While some of us are suggesting that in order to survive the New York Times needs to cuts costs by 40%, jack up offline subscription prices, and build a $100 per year pay wall online, others around here have a much simpler survival plan for the Grey Lady.
Sell more tote bags!
A Times source told us that after homemaking kingpin Martha Stewart mentioned the New York Times “Boat Tote” on air the other day, the New York Times Store sold 200,000 or so of the $46 bags in one day.
Update: Unfortunately, a NYT rep tells us this isn’t true. She says, “We did not sell 200,000 bags — it was actually less than 100.”
Still, any bag sales at all remind us of November 6th, when we heard the Times made a killing selling $15 copies of its November 5th edition, declaring Barack Obama President-elect. A New York Times spokesperson tell us that election-related products totaled $2.3 million in revenues through the end of December.
Both instances remind us of an old axe we like to grind: Web businesses overly dependent on Web advertising should sometimes quit trying to sell their audience and start trying to sell to their audience.
It worked for IAC subsidiary Connected Ventures. Early on, when CollegeHumor.com had an audience but few interested advertisers, CV created placeholder banner ads selling t-shirts. The business took off faster than anyone expected and earned the company’s first profits. Eventually the t-shirt operation became its own company, Busted Tees, and last we heard it was still the revenue backbone of Connected Ventures.
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