The New York Times’ online TimesMachine portal offers a tantalizing look back at the NYT archives, and the media giant has announced a new advertising program that draws on these very archives.

The first company on board with the new program is the National Geographic Channel, alongside media agency mediahub/Mullen. The campaign kicks off today at NYTimes.com, and actually precedes a complete homepage takeover this coming Saturday, February 16.

Launched in January 2001, The National Geographic Channel is a joint venture between National Geographic and Fox Cable Networks (A News Corp. division). It is available in 440 million homes in 171 countries and 38 languages.

The NYT partnership isn’t entirely random – indeed, the National Geographic Channel is broadcasting its first ever original factual drama this coming Sunday called Killing Lincoln, a movie based on Bill O’Reilly’s President Lincoln book of the same name.

Given that TimesMachine displays Times content going back 170 years, featuring the look and feel of the original printed stories, this also encompasses Lincoln’s assassination back in 1865.

The archives includes every issue from Volume 1, Number 1 of The New-York Daily Times, on September 18, 1851, through to The New York Times of December 30, 1922.

TM 730x400 The New York Times taps its TimesMachine Web archives to offer a new ad program, launching with NatGeo
National Geographic Channel’s customized unit will constitute a half-page with overlay, featuring the front page of The New York Times from April 15, 1865, the morning after Lincoln’s assassination.

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Within the ad unit, users will be able to explore other front pages from that time period too, as well as watch the trailer and view behind-the-scenes footage from the film.

NYTL 520x658 The New York Times taps its TimesMachine Web archives to offer a new ad program, launching with NatGeo

“National Geographic Channel’s ‘Killing Lincoln’ is an ideal companion to our TimesMachine product,” explains Denise Warren, senior vice president and chief advertising officer, The New York Times Media Group and general manager, NYTimes.com. “The riveting front page story of Lincoln’s assassination from 1865 complements the film’s historic narrative, transporting readers back in time, all within an ad unit.”

“We’ve all seen the research showing how it’s increasingly difficult to make an impact with standard banners in the digital space,” continues Laurel Boyd, VP, Digital Media Director, mediahub/Mullen. “This unit gave us the opportunity to provide additional value to the consumer by enhancing our ad content with real news articles from the 1860s.  We’re providing consumers with exclusive content in a contextually relevant environment, which makes our messaging much more powerful.”

The New York Times has been leading the way in many respects in terms of how a publisher can successfully monetize its digital content, specifically with its paywall-approach to delivering its print-based news online.

Indeed, with 2012 revenues of $2bn, the publication is still looking for more creative revenue streams, and its existing TimesMachine archives certainly fit the bill for this particularly project, though given its historical focus, it will likely be of limited appeal.

Feature Image Credit – Getty Images