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Posts Tagged ‘John Byrne’

Building Reader Engagement With BW.Com

The problem, as John Byrne sees it: Google and cookies. Google, he says, is “one giant transaction engine. Transactions are the enemy of relationships.” And “we are so cookied to death” that advertisers can find the demographic they want on cheap sites. “Why would you come to BusinessWeek and pay $40 CPM when you can find the same readers on Facebook for ten cents?”


Byrne admits BW can’t compete with the whole Internet on content, so they try to differentiate through engagement. “The secret of digital technology isn’t that you can do video, but that you can collaborate. Journalism has to become not a product but a process.”

Ways they’ve done this:

  • They put a module on every page on the site called “In Your Face,” in which they harvest the best comments on the site and feature the reader on the homepage.
  •’s “bribed” journalists to respond to readers by promising better exposure on the site if journos engage.
  • They have a feature called “My Take” with essays from readers, but they don’t take any submissions. They find articulate readers who are leaving lots of comments and commission essays from them.
  • The 100 “best” commenters last year were given T-shirts, the top 10 got a dinner.

Final thought: “You may believe in micropayments, you may believe in subscriptions. I think that’s true, but so much of journalism is commoditized today. But if you can’t prove to an advertiser that users on your site are deeply engaged with the content on your site, you won’t be able to charge a high CPM in the future.”

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Wanted: Editor-In-Chief. Must Own Le Creuset?

John Byrne, editor-in-chief of, hosted a dinner for 10 readers who “made significant contributions to its Web site last year,” Folio reports. Anyone who’s ever checked out this guy’s twitter feed knows that this is not the first step he and’s taken to build reader engagement online. As an example, he gives out T-shirts via Twitter to’s best commenters.

Is the strategy working? Unclear. According to parent company McGraw-Hill’s most recent earning statement, ad pages for BusinessWeek‘s global edition were down 16.1% for 2008 and 19.6% for the fourth quarter, and BusinessWeek published 13 issues in the fourth quarter of 2008 versus 14 in the same period last year. But in the same statement, the company says: “”In 2008, growth in information services and products helped produce a 4.1% increase in revenue to $954.8 million for the Business-to-Business Group, which includes the following brands: Aviation Week, BusinessWeek, J.D. Power and Associates, McGraw-Hill Construction, and Platts.”

Our wonder is when this stuff will become a standard part of the job description. Everyone’s looking to turn their staff into jacks-of-all-trades.