This week, The New York Times Company announced the first commercial project out of its R&D Ventures Group. Called Ricochet, the new digital marketing platform shifts the traditional media mix. Designed to leverage the fact that brands now have the ability to reach vast audiences on their own, Ricochet allows advertisers to select New York Times content, wrap their advertising around it, create a special link to that branded page, and then use its own media channels to distribute and share that content.
SAP, working with media agency Mindshare, is the first company to utilize this new marketing solution; here’s an example of an SAP-branded page created on the Ricochet Platform. The page looks just like any other New York Times page; in fact it is a NYTimes.com page. But link to the page with that link, and, for the duration of the campaign, it will always have an SAP ad message on it. SAP can now share the Ricochet links through any of its owned media channels and across social media.
SAP plans to use the service to “balance its marketing approach across both push and pull marketing by attracting the right kind of customers with The New York Times’s respected content and then providing a targeted advertising message—all delivered through SAP’s Web properties and social accounts,” according to a press release issued by The New York Times.
The Advertiser as Distribution Engine
“In the traditional advertising model, brands reach audiences through content; by contrast, using Ricochet, content reaches audiences through brands,” said Michael Zimbalist, vice president, research & development operations, The New York Times Company. “As brands develop their own direct connections to audiences on their Web sites and through social media, Ricochet allows them to bring professionally produced content to those audiences surrounded by their own brand messaging.”
And this, from Susan Popper, senior vice president, marketing communications & experience, SAP: “We immediately saw this opportunity as a unique and innovative approach to deliver the right content to the right audience through our own properties and channels, with the authoritative content of The New York Times, wrapped in our own brand messages.”
Essentially, this project turns one of the traditional pieces of the media business model on its head: Advertiser -> Publisher -> Audience becomes Publisher -> Advertiser -> Audience. It says that SAP values the quality of the NYTimes content, and that the content is perceived as more valuable by its audience because it is associated with a NYTimes logo. But we can reach the audience on our own, thank you very much.
What do you think?
Is the Ricochet launch one of the smartest, most innovative things you’ve ever seen a media company do?
Or is The New York Times conceding defeat in a battle for who controls the audience, which relegates it to the position of nothing more than a content-creation agency?