WASHINGTON DC: Some news publishers regard doing business with Facebook and Google as a necessary evil, but not the Washington Post, whose chief revenue officer says “whining” about them is not a good strategy.
“We’ve more than doubled our digital business in ad sales – far more than doubled – in the not even three years since I’ve been here,” Jed Hartman, the chief revenue officer of the Washington Post, told Campaign.
And while not disclosing the base he was working from, he argued this was evidence that there is “plenty of money” for publishers despite the dominance of Google and Facebook in the digital advertising market.
“My perspective on the duopoly is we’re both partners but also they take a lot of ad dollars – good for them,” he said. “They have really good businesses and do a really good job and whining about them is not a very good strategy as a chief revenue officer … I applaud the duopoly.”
Alongside its growing digital advertising base, the Post now claims one million subscribers, a development Hartman attributed primarily to investment in quality journalism at a time when there are concerns over fake news and more people grasp the importance of a trusted news source.
And contrary to received wisdom, he argued that “millennials are willing to pay”. They already pay for content online from Netflix and Spotify, “so then it’s about creating something that they want – if you’re a trusted brand that creates great content and that doesn’t divest in what makes you great”.
Part of that process involves “working very aggressively on the user experience of our ads”, Hartman added.
“If you’re more respectful of the user, if you don’t hold them hostage, if you don’t give them clumsy, slow ad units, then their experience is better,” he pointed out. “And if the experience is better, the engagement is better and the more likely they are to become a paid subscriber.”
Similarly, “You’ve got to be far more polite with your advertising, which is actually better for the advertiser. It gives them more share of voice because you’re going to have fewer ads and the user is more engaged.”
Sourced from Campaign; additional content by WARC staff