PubWorx, Platforms’ Hidden Costs, the Post’s Bandito Tool, Instant Article Changes, Women in Media, TFP’s Infographic Pick of the Week

Welcome to Technology for Publishing’s roundup of news and tips for media industry pros! This week, we’re sharing stories about the new Hearst-Condé Nast back-office venture PubWorx, the hidden (and high!) costs of publishing to platforms, why publishers are giving changes to Facebook Instant Articles a thumbs up, a new tool The Washington Post has developed to optimize content for clicks, and more.

Hearst David Carey headshot

  • Last week news outlets reported on a new company being formed by competitors Hearst Magazines and Condé Nast to jointly manage their production, procurement, and circulation operations, as well as provide custom services to other publishers. Called PubWorx, the independent business will provide not only economies of scale for the two publishing giants, but also “turnkey infrastructure for the industry,” said Hearst’s David Carey (pictured). Reports this week, including a Folio Q&A with Carey and a post on AdAge, offer more details on the venture, including talk of potential publisher clients (Meredith, Bonnier, Time Inc.?), staffing plans, and overall vision. “When you see the respective leaders in the industry coming together, it’s turning heads,” Condé Nast chief Bob Sauerberg said of the launch.
  • There’s been no lack of discussion about distributed publishing out there, but here’s still more to consider: hidden costs. As a Digiday article points out, publishers are betting their social efforts will reel in bigger audiences, but it’s far from clear what they’ll gain when it comes to the bottom line—and “fishing expeditions are hardly free.” First, there’s the cost of staff to manage platform relationships and package content to fit individual channels. Snapchat Discover, for instance, is labor-intensive, with some publishers devoting entire teams to the one messaging app. And then there’s video, a whole other area of expertise, as well as analytics to measure results. Other key things to think about? The danger of spreading existing staff too thin, as well as opportunity costs: With tight budgets, resources being used for social are being squeezed from somewhere else. Still, the report says, not reaching audiences where they are today poses risks as well, potentially costing publishers even more in the longer term.
  • In related news, The Wall Street Journal said publishers are liking recent changes to Facebook Instant Articles that are making it easier for them to make money. On a per-view basis, some media outlets are bringing in the same amount of advertising revenue as page views are generating on their own mobile properties. The article noted the positive feedback is an important milestone and could entice publishers to post a larger volume of content to the platform. Publishers agree more ads per article has been driving the revenue increases: “The changes definitely had a positive effect,” said Vox Media’s Joe Alicatain in the report. “The greater ad load has probably had the biggest impact for us.”
  • The Journal also covered a new tool The Washington Post has developed to optimize content for clicks. Called Bandito, it works similar to so-called A/B testing, which measures appeal based on various headlines and images used. This technology, though, is “set and forget,” meaning it automatically adjusts content based on the data it collects, making the process more efficient. With Amazon chief Jeff Bezos now in charge, the newspaper is increasingly trying to push technological boundaries and rely on “data-driven decision-making,” the article said, noting most of its optimization tools are now being built in-house. Down the road, Bandito will measure for metrics beyond clicks and be used to build readership of the Post’s sponsored content.

On the Technology for Publishing Blog

  • Women in Media: Our roundup this month looks at an AMMC panel featuring Michelle Obama on the importance of media in promoting efforts such as her Let Girls Learn initiative, Melinda Gates’ new role at, Pinterest’s move to promote greater diversity, a new Women’s Health podcast, Condé Nast’s annual top performer awards, and more.
  • If you’re a blogger, you’ll also want to check out this week’s infographic pick. It highlights trends and best practices along with tips on how to succeed in the highly competitive world of blogging.
  • TFP’s Adobe InDesign CC Tip: With the release of InDesign CC 2015.2 you can access the Publish Online feature from the print and export dialogs. Monica Murphy outlines how in her latest tip.

Image: Folio

Check out our blog for highlights of interesting and noteworthy stories from the publishing world every Friday, and sign up for TFP’s This Week in Publishing newsletter. Think we missed something great? Let us know! Leave a comment below or drop us a note.

Posted by: Monica Sambataro

Monica Sambataro is a contributing editor and copyeditor for Technology for Publishing. Her publishing background includes work for leading technology- and business-related magazines and websites.