What is Engagement Now?

The Washington Post's WP BrandStudio is an in-house creative agency that produces branded content and native advertising. It head, Annie Granatstein, provided a look inside at our Publishing Insider Summit in Austin on Thursday during a panel discussion on engagement.

"We're creating content that's relevant to our audience. We look at data on how audience is behaving on our site. We're doing first-party surveys. There are three segments: thought leader, consumer, business. My team is divided by [those] segments so they have deep knowledge and we are using that to inform us on which topics are being written about. How we're distributing to that audience and the types of storytelling methods that we're taking.

"We have the Washington Post Insights team, which does in-house surveys. We're lucky to be able to tap into them. They're the best at doing this kind of work. We feed them hundreds of topics, they seed them out to thousands of readers, they rank them on a scale of 1 to 9. We look at topics getting 8s and 9s, then lean into them for advertisers. We marry that with first-party data on how things are performing on our site. 

"[Advertisers] are looking at time spent on articles and video completion rates. There's a trend toward down-funnel metrics. We're creating shoppable content in response to that and retargeting campaigns. When an audience engages with article content, we retarget them with traditional display advertising, move them down funnel to a purchase or to the client's site.

"A lot has to do with qualified Washington Post audience. With our branded content, the majority of traffic is coming from our site. We have effective channel traffic drivers so we are less reliant on social media traffic drivers. We're making sure headlines on Washington Post channels are going to appeal to the audience that the advertiser is trying to reach, that exact person. It's very sophisticated textual targeting that helps us reach that needle-in-a-haystack audience that the advertiser is trying to reach in a very sophisticated way as opposed to relying on Facebook."

Mike Grisko, CFO, Chive Media Group & Atmosphere, moderated the panel, which also included Pete Jacobs, Vice President, Integrated & Content Marketing, Digital Trends; Nick Johnson, Head of Advertising, McClatchy, and Brian Szejka, Publisher, Rolling Stone.

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