Media Insider: New York Times Plans AI Ad Tool, Local News Initiative Expands, BuzzFeed Sells Complex

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week.

NYT plans to debut new generative AI ad tool later this year
Axios | Sara Fischer

The New York Times is recruiting partners to test new ad-targeting solutions using generative AI beginning next quarter. The tool, which will be widely available to marketers later this year, will provide a recommendation for where an ad campaign could perform best based on its message or objectives. It will also help advertisers avoid potentially awkward alignments against content that wouldn’t fit in with their messaging goals. The Times is currently experimenting with multiple large language models (LLMs), including enterprise models and open-source models, to power the new tool. “This obviously demonstrates that we believe GenAI is an enabler and can be something that is effective for our business when used responsibly,” said Joy Robins, global chief advertising officer.

More AI news: The Associated Press has received two grants that it will use to expand its coverage of AI and bring training to global newsrooms.

BuzzFeed Sells Complex, a Pop Culture Start-Up, for $108.6 Million
New York Times | Benjamin Mullin

BuzzFeed is selling Complex — known for its coverage of streetwear and pop culture — to Ntwrk, an e-commerce company backed by LiveNation Entertainment and Main Street Advisors. The sale price of $108.6 million is a steep decline compared to the $294 million in cash and stock that BuzzFeed paid in 2021 to purchase Complex. BuzzFeed also said it was laying off 16% of its remaining workforce, a move it expects will save the company $23 million annually. It’s using the Complex sale to pay off more than $60 million in debt. Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed’s co-founder and chief executive, said in a statement that selling Complex was “an important strategic step” for the company.

Read next: The Guardian, known for its lack of a paywall, is reportedly planning to restrict readers to 20 free articles on its app.

Press Forward announces local expansion
Poynter | Kristen Hare

Eleven new communities have joined established Press Forward chapters in the effort to get $500 million into local newsrooms and communities that need them. After Press Forward was launched in November, chapters were announced in Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, Kansas and Philadelphia. The new chapters include Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pittsburgh, Lexington, Kentucky, and more. “The challenge of rebuilding America’s local news landscape is vast, and will depend on multi-layered solutions at the local and national level,” said Dale Anglin, Press Forward’s brand new director, in the press release. “Press Forward Locals are critical to our success. These leaders are closest to their communities and can identify authentic approaches for their cities and states.”

Read next: Two new bills in Illinois propose incentives to fund news organizations and repopulate newsrooms.

FuboTV sues Disney, Fox, Warner Bros. over sports joint venture
CNBC | Sara Salinas, Julia Boorstin

Sports streaming platform FuboTV is suing Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery over their recently announced joint venture to create a combined sports streaming platform. The lawsuit cites what the company calls “extreme suppression of competition in the U.S. sports-focused streaming market.” FuboTV CEO David Gandler said in a statement: “By joining together to exclusively reserve the rights to distribute a specialized live sports package, we believe these corporations are erecting insurmountable barriers that will effectively block any new competitors from entering the market.” The joint venture, announced earlier this month, has caused concerns from major distributors that it will drive up cable TV cancellations.

In other sports news news, Apple launched Apple Sports this week, a personalized sports news app for iPhone users.

Ad tech company makes case for journalism
Semafor | Max Tani

Ad Fontes Media has launched a partnership with The Trade Desk to direct more advertising dollars to news. Ad Fontes says the new capability inside the ad tech platform could help advertisers find the most reliable, unbiased news sources, which could deliver higher returns than other advertising verticals. “We are pleased that our customers will now have access to Ad Fontes’ media ratings data so that they can have as much confidence as possible that they are advertising against premium journalism content,” said Samantha Jacobson, the company’s chief strategy officer.

Read next: Jeff Zucker talked to The Hollywood Reporter about his recent media investments, his outlook for journalism and more.

Top 25 US newspaper circulations: Largest print titles fall 14% in year to September 2023
Press Gazette | Aisha Majid

The combined average newspaper circulation of the 25 largest US titles fell 14% in the year to September 2023, which was the same as the decline seen in the 12 months to March 2023. The combined average daily print circulation of the 25 biggest dailies was 2.3 million in the six months to September, compared to 2.7 million the year before, and 2.6 million in the six months to March 2023 according to data from the Alliance for Audited Media. The Wall Street Journal (555,182) and The New York Times (267,639) remain the biggest dailies in the US, although their print circulations fell by 14% and 13% year-on-year respectively. While print declined, many of the 25 dailies in the list have invested in and grown their digital reader revenue.

Read next: Staffers at nonprofit publication Houston Landing have formed a union after sudden layoffs in January.

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Rocky Parker is the Manager of Audience and Journalist Engagement at Cision PR Newswire. She's been with the company since 2010 and has worked with journalists and bloggers as well as PR and comms professionals. Outside of work, she can be found trying a new recipe, binging a new show, or cuddling with her pitbull, Hudson.

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