May 23, 2018

Cooking made sense. Crosswords were easy.

But how did The New York Times decide on parenting, announced Tuesday as its third standalone product?

An editorial and product team looked at 15 or 20 areas through the fall. It settled on one, which was accepted by senior leadership in January, and the team began hiring in February, said Alex MacCallum, head of new product and ventures, in an interview.

The idea is for the first five members of the parenting team (who are all parents, by the way) to come up with a product by the beginning of the year. They will be looking at what parents want and how they want information delivered.

The parenting product may have a mini-feature somehow linked to the main New York Times (Mini-Crosswords, for example, are online, and there's a recipe in the Morning Briefing), but that's not the main focus, MacCallum said.

Here's the focus: What is so necessary that people will turn repeatedly to this source, find it indispensable, and pay for it? Cooking and Crosswords are strong components of the NYT's 2.8 million digital subscriptions. They work both as entry products — less than half the monthly cost of the main NYT monthly subscription — or as parts that make the main package seem worth it. MacCallum noted a jump in higher-level subscriptions when Cooking and Crosswords were added to the package. In the first three months of 2018, 40,000 of the 139,000 new digital subscriptions came from the Cooking and Crossword products.

Related: Oh so that's what a funnel is

MacCallum acknowledged that a big lure of parenting was the average age of parents — less than the average subscriber. Once in the NYT's fold, those parenting subscribers may upgrade to the full product.

“Parenting is a space that involves many areas that The Times covers so well — from science to relationships to education," MacCallum said. "From our early research, parents are looking for trust and authority, qualities The Times can provide."

A challenge, MacCallum said, is providing relevant information to parents at various stages of parenting.

The five parenting leaders will bring news judgment, tech-savvy and product and design expertise, she said. They are: editor Jessica Grose of the Lenny Letter; product lead Youngna Park from Tinybop; design lead Barbara deWilde, the New Products and Ventures executive creative director; tech lead David Yee, who previously ran the CMS team at Vox; and Vhanya Mackechnie, of New Products, who will lead project management efforts.

Related: NYT dips a toe into television production

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