HOLLYWOOD, Florida - If any media owner knows the value of speedy delivery, it's Jeff Bezos. As The Washington Post continues to grow its digital audience, constant technology upgrades put the time element front and center.
"Our owner likes to say give the gift of speed to our audience," Jed Hartman, the company's Chief Revenue Officer, says in an interview with Beet.TV while attending the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. "We're constantly working on removing friction for users who want to engage with the Post and making sure our content is wherever they are."
Using a lot of its own homegrown technology, the Post has built a personalization engine to divine reader interests. If a user is not engaged, or if they are moving too slowly or too fast, a message pops up with a personalized story. "That all enhances engagement as well as click through to the story," Hartman notes.
At a time when other media companies are jettisoning staff, the Post has hired "a couple hundred" journalists since Bezos of Amazon fame acquired the venerable news organization in the fall of 2013, according to Hartman. He cites comScore figures showing a digital audience of just over 100 million in the U.S., plus about another 30 million internationally. "The bigger you get, the more opportunity you have to get small, by targeting," says Hartman.
In this tumultuous political environment, not every marketer wants its ads adjacent to related news coverage, which suits the Post fine because only about 20% of its content is politics/global news, according to Hartman.
Facebook Instant Articles has been "a win" as the Post's total audience has remained the same since activating on the social platform, says Hartman. Meanwhile, "our page views grew, so the audience was going deeper and it's a far better experience."
The Post recently added another 30 people to its video unit because video is becoming "front and center with everything we do. We've certainly been a mobile first company. Now we're becoming a mobile and video first company," says Hartman.
The company runs ads in pre-, mid- and post-roll video content as well as within news feeds. With its FlexPlay product, video assets can be converted into shorter units and animated GIF's, "so it's lightening fast," Hartman says.
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