Bleacher Report was founded in 2007, originally as an open platform for sports bloggers – as time’s gone on, more internal editorial processes have been put in place, and now it’s more of a hybrid model.
“We rode a lot of the trends in digital media to build our audience,” Nemetz said. “We were early in programmatic, mobile, social, analytics driven journalism and so on. The digital media landscape is changing quickly and you have to adapt. We’re now very mobile centric, with 70 percent of our audience accessing our content from mobile platforms.”
“The analytics team works as our experimentation engine. To be honest, we kind of stumbled into that way of working. The big turning point was when we designated one editor as the head of analytics. He drove experimentation across the company, digging in from different angles trying to glean insights. And then to test the assumptions, he set up experiments. After a while we set up a whole team for this. If you have a hard time figuring out how to kick off the using data analyses to drive innovation, just do that – start with one person having the licence and freedom to work across the organisation,” said Nemetz.
One way Bleacher Report started to work with the data they had was to set up a calendar of events over a year, and model both scheduled and un-scheduled events. “We look at how events were covered over the years, what audience have responded to, what’s worked well and so on, to create a plan for how to use our resources to best cover a given event and thereby maximising user engagement.”
The data is also used to deliver the best ROI for advertisers.
“Most of our premium campaigns have been custom branded content campaigns,” Nemetz said. “Thanks to the analytics we know where we can deliver audience and how. And it’s not always what brands think they should spend on. For example, we had some brands who really wanted to sponsor Nascar, to reach the middle America audience. We knew that we would not reach the size audience they needed, so we shifted them to college football instead – with a similar demographic but much more interest. We asked them to take our lead, and could maintain the premium CPMs and total spend.”
Nemetz’s final take-away for the DME audience was for everyone to engage in constant experimentation. “The digital media landscape is changing. At BR we didn’t know where it was going, it was about taking risks and sometimes going around blind corners. Infuse your organisation with experimentation, and you will find successes along the line.
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