Last week, the New York Times announced that its third-quarter earnings per share were down slightly from the same time period last year. In a conference call with analysts, Times executives attributed the slowdown, in part, to a challenging advertising environment, particularly in three areas — studio entertainment, help wanted, and auto ads.
In the latter category, however, Times execs appear to be doing everything they can to rev things back up to speed. To wit: On Wednesday, the Times rolled out a special section called “Cars,” featuring a article compared driving a Smart car to walking a puppy. Yet another explored how compact vehicles keep getting safer.
But whether or not Americans are ready to downsize their cars, one thing is apparent after perusing the section — the Times isn’t quite ready to downsize its car coverage. In fact, Cars is a behemoth of an insert, the Hummer of special sections. At 36 pages, it’s almost twice as large as the Times’ usual Sunday Automobiles section. All that extra, interior space adds up to a lot more auto ads for the Times. Lincoln, Acura, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus — all took out full-page ads in Cars.
All of which raises the question, If there’s so much pent-up demand for mid-week auto ads, why not hop behind the wheel of the regular Sunday Automobiles section and re-park that sucker mid-week? Or better yet, the Times could do for automobiles what it did for trendy style pieces — add a second, weekly section.
No such luck, says Diane McNulty, executive director of community affairs and media relations for the Times. “The automotive market continues to be challenging, and while that particular section was full of ads, it is a section that we run once a year in October,” says McNulty. “The reason we run it in the Wednesday paper is that we can’t do sections that large on Sunday.”
Oh well. So much for … Thursday Miles.