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Data drives Washington Post

News, 23 June 2015

WASHINGTON, DC: In the two years since Amazon boss Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post he has put data at the heart of the newspaper's editorial and commercial approach.

It recently reported a record 52m unique visitors in a single month which was a 65% year-on-year increase; at the same time, pageviews were up 109%. Overall, web traffic has doubled since January 2014.

This shift was attributed to its Clavis project where machine learning algorithms were created to improve the Post's content recommendations. One consequence has been a 95% improvement in the clickthrough rate on Post Recommends links.

The impact of Clavis has not been limited to editorial, however, as Rohan Stevens, programmatic advertising sales head, outlined to Beet.tv.

"It's a collaboration between the newsroom and the sales organisation," he said.

"It helps keep our readers on site and engaged and diving deeper into news articles," he explained. And "it also helps our advertisers pinpoint readers down to the topic of interest that they might have, where ads might be focused."

He suggested that this was but one of many examples "where you can see the influence of Jeff Bezos in our engineering culture in the company".

Stevens also reported that video was becoming increasingly important to the Post. "Video is such an amazing growth engine in the digital media space, primarily driven by broadcast dollars that are being moved [into this space]," he said

It was, he added, a great opportunity for publishers to reach an audience that might not be watching broadcast television.

"And it's a really cool opportunity for us to really look at what outstream means to our business and determine its best place in terms of ways for us to monetise outstream video.

"I'm really excited to see where this business goes in future," he said.

Data sourced from Beet.tv, Knight Lab; additional content by Warc staff