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Inside the New York Times Blog Strategy

Peterhoran_1Mark Glaser over at the Online Journalism Review did a great interview with Peter Horan, the CEO of About.com. He discussed the early days at About (Victoria Bianchini's leadership in viral marketing, how guides were trained and compensated), some stats on About (21.8 million unique users, 1 million pieces of guide content, 68 employees, 7-8 editorial staffers, and 500 guides), and competitive barriers to entering About's business (in particular the intangible value of the feedback loop they've built between users and search engines).

It's a great read, particularly for newspaper executives who are evaluating their blog strategy in a world that seems to be increasingly free. Peter's quote that "If somebody reads a news article on the Times, we've got the evergreen content that's the drill-down" supports my notion that the emerging New York Times search strategy will be to use content from the Times newsroom to drive traffic, and About's 1 million pieces of content to provide context for the long tail that is search results.

This paves the way for a private content delivery network where New York Times can start building and delivering advertiser-supported guides that provide more detail on news stories and useful consumer advice for lifestyle articles. The decentralized editorial process that Peter describes reminds me of conference calls that some bloggers are starting to hold with the mainstream media in order to share ideas and explore media synergies without the media actually having to take ownership.

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