Washingtonpost.com's Great Foray Into Social Networking

Media Morph: WaPo

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: WaPo.
Web 2.0 efforts such as tagging, reader profiles, coment pages and a blog ad network has helped Washingtonpost.com see revenue jump 36%.
Web 2.0 efforts such as tagging, reader profiles, coment pages and a blog ad network has helped Washingtonpost.com see revenue jump 36%.

What it is: WaPo is one of the better examples of a traditional news source embracing less traditional social media tools. The Washington Post is far from the only news organization embracing social media, from blogging and user-generated content to tagging, popular ranking and reader comments. But it was an early leader in the field, adding blogs before nearly any major paper, and has continued to test new editorial and even business models to capture a wider angle on events.

The details: The site already allows for Del.icio.us tagging and carries Technorati-enabled "Who's Blogging" option attached to many or all of its articles. It's implemented reader comments on most news stories, and plans to encourage readers to create profile pages that collect all of their comments on a central place, which creates a social network in essence. Working with the search technology firm Inform, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive recently placed a news search engine on its sites to direct its readers to other news sites. Once they've finished a WaPo story, readers can then search for coverage elsewhere. The idea is that such a convenience will encourage readers to use WashingtonPost.com as their default news home page, rather than just a stop in their news-gathering routine.

The ad angle: WashingtonPost.com recently also formed its own blog ad network, making it a potential financial and promotional partner for bloggers. "The revenue gets shared (in the bloggers favor of course) and we throw in one additional component. ... A link to their blog on the homepage of washingtonpost.com," Jeff Burkett, head of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive's sales development team, wrote in a blog post, natch.

Money talks: And while there are clearly other factors to be considered, WaPo's 2.0 efforts seem to be paying off. Online revenue at the Washington Post Co.'s newspaper division totaled $25.3 million in the second quarter -- a 36% increase year-over-year, with most of the gains coming from WashingtonPost.com. That's faster that online revenue generated by its chief rivals such as The New York Times Co., which grew 25% in the second quarter compared to last year.
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