Tuesday, March 9, 2010

AP hires NY Times exec to boost digital revenue

An executive who helped run The New York Times' Web site has been hired to guide The Associated Press' effort to sell consumer applications for the Apple iPad and other digital devices, the news cooperative said Tuesday.

Nick Ascheim will run a newly created business unit called AP Gateway as general manager of AP Digital. When he joins the AP this week, Ascheim will report to Jane Seagrave, who became the AP's chief revenue officer last week.

As a vice president for NYTimes.com, Ascheim, 40, helped steer one of the Web's most popular news sites. He joined the Times in 2004 as director of entertainment and video on the Web site before being promoted to vice president in 2007.

Before going to the Times, Ascheim was CEO of TheSquare Inc., an online college networking service. He also had a stint as editorial director for FoxNews.com.

"Nick brings to AP a depth of experience and a proven record in fields that are key to the success of AP and its membership," Seagrave said.

AP Gateway, announced Feb. 26, is trying to develop products that will help the not-for-profit cooperative, newspapers and broadcasters mine new sales opportunities as less money comes in from their traditional sources of income.

Newspapers and broadcasters have been particularly hard hit by a steep downturn in advertising during the past three years. The slump prompted the AP to cut its fees for those media outlets, siphoning away $30 million in revenue last year and a projected $45 million this year.

The AP has been working on a news and information application for Apple's iPad, a highly anticipated computer tablet due to hit stores April 3. AP executives hope to charge a fee for the iPad application, although it may be offered for free initially to help build an audience that would attract advertisers.

The AP already offers a free application for Apple's iPhone and other phones that has been downloaded more than 3 million times.

Besides bringing in Ascheim, the AP also promoted two executives, Daisy Veerasingham and Sue Cross.

Veerasingham, 40, was named senior vice president of business development and partner relations for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Besides focusing on those regions, Veerasingham will oversee the AP's video operations and archives. She had been a vice president.

Cross, 49, will be senior vice president for business development and partner relations for the Americas. She also will oversee the AP's commercial photography business and elections services. She had been senior vice president of global new media and print/broadcast in the America.