How the Washington Post is taking aim at ‘the platforms’
You would be forgiven if the idea of an electronics showcase didn’t conjure images of smudgy newsprint. But the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post says it is as much a tech company as it is newspaper in 2020. Just ask Jarrod Dicker, its VP of commercial technology and development, who is on the floor at CES looking for opportunities to take on the platforms.
The Post has been building software Dicker hopes will place control of distribution and monetization of content back in the hands of the media companies that make it. Ad Age caught up with Dicker in Las Vegas to get his crystal ball view into the future of the media.
What does The Washington Post look for at CES?
What we get to see here, and the people we get to speak to and communicate with, is really starting to think about: What is a media company beyond the content, beyond just the service of manufacturing information to people? It’s up for argument whether that’s become commoditized with the platforms. What are different areas that we could soon play in and really think about where The Washington Post can be unique and valuable, outside of just creating content and bringing value to both readers and advertisers, but also technology and other opportunities?
What do you personally look for at CES?
CES for me is really about how to get new inspiration to how we can change and redefine what our business means in the media landscape. I love the weird stuff, like the robotic toilets and things you’re not going to see anywhere else that for some reason get front and center in all the trades and all the stuff you see online. I’m really trying to think about what is the definition of what we’re going to be doing in the next few years.
What does 2020 look like for the media?
I’m very bullish on technology as a lot of people know. The Washington Post has made a very heavy investment in software to be the all-in-one source of software for all creators that are publishing content, trying to drive revenue from content and trying to drive consumer revenue as well. There’s a lot of momentum and a lot of rah-rah rooting for companies like us to be able to come up with a solution that offers differentiation from what’s happening on the platform side and elsewhere.
What does the media space look like in 2030?
You can hologram me in in 10 years like Tupac at Coachella. [Laughs.] Everything is starting to break apart and I think that’s good for this industry. Before everyone was very pigeonholed in certain parts of the businesses they were responsible for: If you were a media company, you were just supposed to create content. If you were a community site, you were just supposed to aggregate community and be a forum. If you were selling products, you were just supposed to review products and sell them.
What we’ve seen is that there’s an opportunity for things to merge, both in terms of companies like The Washington Post or the New York Times or Vox Media to be able to enter into new spaces, whether that’s software or commerce where otherwise they weren’t necessarily supposed to play in. Or there are brands that are coming into this space.