The New York Times serves itself

The normal reaction of newspaper executives to Google’s dominance of web advertising has generally been to complain or cry foul.

Earlier this evening, however, I saw an ad running on the New York Times website that made me say “good on you guys” out loud.

The newspaper has introduced Self-Service Advertising, designed mainly for small businesses. It’s one of the most attractive alternatives to Google AdWords that I’ve seen from a newspaper so far.

Advertisers can upload their own materials, or choose from a library, customizing ad text, appearance, color-schemes etc. And they can choose campaign dates and whether ads should run nationally or locally. Best of all they can choose their financial commitment, and track their ads’ performance.

This is old news for Google AdWords’ customers. But I like the fact that you can target advertising for a premium content brand in context. And I think it adds something appealing to the mix.

I’m not saying it’s perfect, or a panacea to the newspaper industry’s problems, but I do think that this sort of experiment is important. It’s a more effective response to Google’s market dominance than either continuing to do what doesn’t work, or trying to blame Google for the industry’s woes.

And the NYT deserves praise and encouragement for trying new things.