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At ‘Washington Post,’ Tech Is Increasingly Boosting Financial Performance

Journalists during The Washington Post work in a newsroom surrounded by screens display a website and updated reader metrics.

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images


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Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Journalists during The Washington Post work in a newsroom surrounded by screens display a website and updated reader metrics.

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

When we started my career during The Washington Post in a late 1990s, a newsroom wore a dusty, old-fashioned demeanour as if it were profitable loyalty to a mythological past. The Post of currently occupies an updated building on D.C.’s eminent K Street, in modern, glass-walled offices with a Silicon Valley aesthetic.

This is a Post after Jeff Bezos, a Amazon CEO and e-commerce visionary, bought it in 2013. Since then, a paper’s business and record has roughly outshone a award-winning journalism.

Before Bezos, a Post was losing income and a waste were widening, as it struggled to find income to reinstate a decrease in imitation ads. The Post is now secretly owned and doesn’t plead specific figures, though says income and boost are up, as subscribers grow and digital ad income increases. Its monthly Web trade has grown 56 percent, to 78.7 million over a past dual years, according to ComScore.

That reflects a journalism, though it also reflects large changes underneath a hood. Under Bezos, a journal has remade a operations, from how it writes headlines and chooses photos, to how it generates ad dollars.

Bezos came with low pockets and a message, says a Post’s arch information officer, Shailesh Prakash.

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“He talks to us a lot about not being fearful to experiment, to consider prolonged term,” Prakash says. ” ‘Stop fussy that a Web took edition divided from us, took a business model. It also brought new models,’ ” he says Bezos told them.

Prior to Bezos, a Post‘s record operation consisted mostly of a assistance desk, regulating computers and software-bug rags and such. After Bezos, and during his urging, a Post done a vicious decision: to build a possess software.

“Pretty many any apparatus that a newsroom uses, or a sales group uses, has been built in-house,” Prakash says.

It scarcely doubled a IT multiplication to 250 people, Prakash says, recruiting high-quality talent by offered them on a startup-like sourroundings and a artistic goal to save journalism.

Creating a possess technology, in turn, gave a Post some-more control over things like bucket speeds and reliability, as good as low prominence into a users — that stories they read, how distant they scrolled, that headlines drew some-more traffic, and either any reader has a welfare for videos or print presentations. That information could be fed behind to a newsroom in genuine time, enabling them to, for example, beta-test headlines and optimize photos matched to opposite models of phones.

Though a Post‘s paper dissemination is still disappearing slightly, a online readership is adult 22 percent over final year. Readers are spending some-more time on a site. And, many critically for marketers, there was a fivefold boost in users enchanting with a ads. The Post has pronounced a digital ad income now exceeds $100 million annually, flourishing double-digit percentages 3 years in a row.

Its program is so successful, in fact, a Post has sole it to 22 other publishers, including a Los Angeles Times, Toronto’s The Globe and Mail, and Chicago Tribune. Selling a record is a new business line, Prakash says.

“It’s in a infancy, we have good aspirations for it, and during a finish of a day, what is a indicate of it? The indicate of it is, it’s a income tide to energy journalism,” he says.

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When we left a Post in 2008, there was good fear in a newsroom that record was going to destroy journalism. Now, Prakash says, he believes record competence save it.

Jarrod Dicker, a Post‘s executive of ad product and engineering, helped rise program that filters by news stories and automatically places a right ad, to compare a user’s demographics and preferences. The Post allows a advertisers to use that same program to emanate some-more relevant, content-rich ads — things directed during sketch tangible reader interest, as against to a mistaken click on an vitriolic popup or flashing ensign ad.

“We speak about, in this industry, that ads need to now turn user first. Because of feeling with ad restraint and rascal and viewability, we unequivocally built this unfolding that we need to assistance build improved advertisements or else consumers will never rivet with promotion online,” Dicker says. If readers are incited off, conjunction a Post nor a advertiser can win.

Dicker says a record underpins a Post‘s business turnaround, and it is assisting account investment in a news business.

“I wouldn’t wish to insult anyone in a newsroom, and a broadcasting is positively amazing, though we are 100 percent now, when it comes to competitiveness in a market, a record company,” he says.

The outcome of this record is not usually improved targeted ads, though also fewer of them.

“If we go to their app, that is a pleasing app, and we lift adult their app, it’s tough to find any promotion on that thing,” says Corey Elliott, a clamp boss for Borrell Associates, an promotion consultant.

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Elliott says in a aged days, dissemination was a large target. Now, he says, advertisers caring reduction about altogether subscription numbers or quantifying eyeballs.

“That isn’t critical anymore. What’s critical is that we get in front of a accurate right people,” he says.

That is accurately what Janel Shervington, media executive for ad group MediaCom, says. “Some time ago, we did perspective a Post as stagnant,” she says. But in a camber of a integrate of years, her perspective of a Post has left from stodgy to slicing edge, and Shervington has doubled her client’s ad spending during a Post over dual years.

She has worked with other news organizations perplexing to do identical things, though a Post‘s record is forward of a pack, she says. Instead of only shopping ad space from a Post, she now partners with a Post on code and selling plan 8 months in advance.

“We can be gentle meaningful that we’re going to be vocalization to a right chairman and a summary is going to be removing in front of a right audience,” she says.