The New York Times headquarters

The New York Times has serious digital ambitions and the further crossing of non-editorial work is resulting in some layoffs.

The newspaper cut 11 people from its marketing team through a combination of its “audience and brand” and “consumer revenue” departments into what will now be a single work area, WWD has learned.

As part of the changes, David Rubin, formerly the Times’ head of brand, has been named chief marketing officer, a first for the outlet. Hannah Yang, formerly senior vice president, subscription acquisition and media management, has been named head of subscription growth, according to an internal memo. The Times intends to reach 10 million digital subscribers in the coming years, up from around three million now.

Meredith Levien, chief operations officer at the Times, wrote in the memo that Rubin “is a brilliant marketer whose smarts and judgment are relied upon across the company” and noted that Yang’s new role “is at the heart of our commercial success.” She will lead a team focused on subscription growth composed of people from the Times’ data, design, engineering, finance, marketing, product and strategy departments and continue to oversee a team covering print subscriptions, which are an ever-shrinking number of paying readers.

Levien wrote in her memo that 2018 “has been a remarkable year” for the paper, noting it’s “marketing more effectively,” “starting to ship more features and value to our readers” and “making great strides in core digital subscriptions, new products and advertising.”

“Our progress makes us even more ambitious,” Levien wrote. “We are more convinced than ever that we can persuade millions more people to engage deeply with — and subscribe to — the Times.”

With that goal in mind, the Times is changing its non-edit operations more broadly as part of an effort to “accelerate our digital growth strategy.” Operational changes include more collaboration between data, design, engineering, product and marketing departments, along with the newsroom.

Levien highlighted the recent creation of “two dozen cross-functional teams” and said the effort is paying off. She said a team focused on mobile led the platform to recently “exceed desktop for the first time”; a site registration team set a record on election day; an onboarding team has “dramatically improved” newsletter sign-ups by new subscribers. So, digital work at the Times is getting a similar “cross-functional” team approach focused on a few key areas internally called “missions.”

Growth of digital subscriptions and daily engagement with stories are two big missions, but also being focused on is driving subscriptions to stand-alone products the Times offers, a branding push to tell readers what makes the Times “worth paying for” and the build-out of digital advertising and “ad experiences that support sustained ad revenue.”

Levien said each mission team “will be focused on a small number of big problems to solve” and all will get the resources and expertise they need. While a handful of the marketing team may have been let go, the Times said it’s planning to hire additional engineers, data experts, designers and product managers “to allow us to do near-term, results-oriented work and build a better future at the same time.”

For More, See:

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