The New York Times Runs Its First-Ever Native Print Ad

The 8-page section was sponsored by Shell

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The New York Times introduced its first native ad product, called "Paid Posts," on its website in January. But today, the Times is making its initial foray into sponsored print content with a Paid Post from Shell that appears in both the newspaper and digital editions.

The post, titled Cities Energized: The Urban Transition, uses data to illustrate urban growth and the correlation between smart urban design and energy efficiency, explained an NYT spokesperson.

The print version of the ad is an eight-page section. Using the Blippar augmented reality app, readers can scan the ad with their smartphones to access related video. Online, the ad includes more high-tech bells and whistles such as parallax scroll functionality, interactive data visualizations, and, of course, plenty of video content.

While publishers have been jumping on the native ad bandwagon for several years now, the Times was especially slow to adopt the format. During a panel on native advertising in May 2013, the newspaper's former executive editor Jill Abramson voiced concerns about native ads, saying that she was worried about "leaving confusion in readers' minds about where the content comes from, and purposefully making advertising look like a news story."

The Times has not disclosed how much Shell paid for the combined print and digital campaign, but according to a recent Capital New York report, the newspaper has been known to charge upwards of $200,000 for content creation alone.

The ad was created by T Brand Studio, the Times' in-house production unit specializing in native content.

Meredith Levien, evp of advertising for the Times, said in an interview with Digiday that other advertisers have shown interest in sponsoring print content, but until now, none of the ads had been up to the New York Times' standards. "We wanted to do branded content at the highest level possible to capture the reader's attention in a manner that's befitting the Times," she told Digiday.

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.