Digital Innovation – 5 Conclusions From The NYTimes Digital Innovation Report

Michael Brenner on Jun 16, 2014 in Content Marketing

By now, you’ve likely heard about the New York Times Digital Innovation Report. The nearly-100 page report was leaked by Buzzfeed last month and became more than the talk of the town in New York city right before Internet Week where I presented on the content marketing imperative.

The NYT’s analysis of its own Digital Innovation also became one of the most talked about reports in digital media, marketing, and even in technology circles.

The New York Time is winning at journalism. 

The report kicks off. And while it celebrates the victory of producing great content in the digital age, it immediately warns:

At the same time, we are falling behind in a second critical area: the art and science of getting our journalism to readers.

The report was crated by a committee of the more digitally-minded employees at the company and led by the publisher’s son, A.G. Sulzberger. His father then fired Jill Abramson in a move that was reported as unrelated to the report or its findings.

The Nieman Journalism Lab did a great job of summarizing the main take-aways of the report and called it one of the “key documents of this digital age.”

Some of the main findings of the report paint a detailed picture of what any effective content marketing strategy should consider:

The Value of The Homepage Is Decreasing

The report stated that only a third of their visitors ever visited their homepage. And those that do spend less time on the site and engage less. The report blamed a lack of focus on sharing their quality journalism.

Take-away: Focus on your headlines over your homepage

Re-Purpose Old Content

The report cited numerous examples of competitors who had taken Times content and re-packaged it, often with greater effect. The implication is to think about curating from your own archives, experimenting and re-purposing in new ways.

Take-away: Look back at your previous hits and think about news ways to publish and share the content

Technology Is A Key Enabler

Content Rules Co-Author C.C. Chapman  suggested every CMO should read the report and cited technology as his top conclusion: “a solid content management system is the foundation for success.”

The Times report mentions how the company is “woefully behind in its tagging and structured data practices.”

Take-away: use data, tagging and solid technology to serve up the best possible user experience.

Even Great Content Needs A Push

One are the Innovation report spends a lot of time on is the lack of sharing, promotion and social pushing from the Times own staff. The report cites competitors who require authors to submit 5 possible tweets for each story and to share their stories with their own social profiles.

Take-away: spend as much time focused on promoting your content as you do in creating it.

Start Conversations With The Community

The report mentions the lack of commenting on the site and how they “nominally attempt to interact with readers.” It says that only a fraction of stories are open for comments, only 1% of readers comment and only 3% of readers read the comments.

Take-away: use your content as an opportunity to start conversations with your audience and build a community around it.

There were many other areas discussed in the report such as:

  • focus on integrating live events
  • team work among staffers
  • lack of communication among different teams
  • lack of clearly defined strategy
  • fear of failure
  • hiring practices
  • thinking “digital-first”

And what really comes to mind for me is that all of the above could appear on the list of to-do’s for many CMOs and marketing leaders from businesses of every size. So remember:

Key Take-aways From The New York Time Digital Innovation Report

  1. Focus on your headlines
  2. Re-purpose your content in multiple ways
  3. Start with a solid foundation in technology that supports the user experience
  4. Put equal effort into promotion and creation
  5. Use your content as an opportunity to open a dialogue with your community

These are my key thoughts from the report. What are yours?

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook  and Google+ or  Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.