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Jarrod Dicker has only been with The Washington Post for a little over three months now, and he's already sold on its future.
"I kind of feel like the Post is going to be the first legacy media company that's going to be viewed as an emerging media company," said Mr. Dicker, who serves as director of ad product and engineering.
If you haven't heard, the Post has been riding high of late. The Post exceeded The New York Times in unique visitors for the first time ever in October, and scored a two-peat in November. Last week, it moved into a state-of-the-art new office on K Street in Washington, D.C.
Backed by deep-pocketed owner Jeff Bezos, the Post is embracing innovation, editorially. Chief Revenue Officer Jed Hartman has tasked the Post's business team with doing the same thing for advertising, Mr. Dicker told Ad Age. The result is a new team called Red, led by Mr. Dicker.
"We're investing so much in doing things ourselves, and being proprietary, especially in the ad-tech department," said Mr. Dicker, a veteran of Time Inc. and The Huffington Post.
Today, the Red team released its second new product in three months. Called "PostPulse," the new ad unit leans on a tool called Clavis that helps determine what kind of stories readers seem to enjoy, based on their history.
PostPulse ad units will incorporate both a brand's media -- it could be branded content -- and a carousel that will recommend a few Post articles for readers, based on the data. The right-rail Pulse unit will "follow" readers from page to page if they take the plunge and click on a recommended link.
Comparing PostPulse to past ad products he's worked on, Mr. Dicker said: "What I really like about this one is that the advertiser is really starting to become the recommendation engine for a particular user."
WellsFargo has signed on as PostPulse's first customer, and Mr. Dicker said he's hoping to interest the company's other slate of advertisers in the new product.
Generally, the Post's advertisers won't touch the article recommendation carousel portion of PostPulse, but Mr. Dicker said that it's possible for brands that feel strongly about it -- perhaps for legal reasons -- to determine what goes inside. "Some clients are nervous about things being automatic and flowing through," he said.
The launch of PostPulse follows the early November debut of FlexPlay, which "leverages proprietary video technology to optimize five to 10 seconds of an advertiser's creative, turning it into .gif and mp4 flexible size formats," according to the official announcement.
The Post has a "ton more" ad products on the way, said Mr. Dicker, who mentioned virtual reality technology as one area of exploration for the team. (The New York Times' T Brand Studios has already produced VR films for advertisers.)
"Our agenda and our responsibility is not day-to-day," he said. "It's literally to create new products to bring to the market."