SODP Dispatch - 23 February 2024

What makes The Harvard Gazette unique, Google tests removing the News tab from search results, subscriber-based content strategy + more

Hello, SODP readers!

In today’s issue:

  • From SODP: Macworld’s and The Harvard Gazette’s success factors

  • Tip of the week: Executing a subscriber-based content strategy

  • News: How many new websites block AI crawlers, NYT to debut new generative AI ad tool, Google tests removing the News tab from search results + more


WP Publisher Success Week | 26-29 February

WP Publisher Success Week – a free online event for digital publishing and news media professionals – is just around the corner!

WP Week features four 1-hr sessions – one per day. Register for the entire event or individual sessions.

🗓 February 26-29, 2024
🕐 10-11 AM Pacific Time | 1-2 PM Eastern Time
📍 Online

Our experts from Google, Multidots, The Texas Tribune, Blasting News, Foreign Affairs Magazine, and SODP will cover:

What significant developments in the WordPress ecosystem are going to shape publishers’ experience in 2024

What AI applications have the highest chance of succeeding

How to audit and optimize your current workflows and website performance

How to optimize the revenue strategy for your WordPress-based digital property


The Harvard Gazette: How Student Journalism Is a Super-Connector that Brings Harvard Top of Mind

By Vahe Arabian and Jeremy Fremont

When Harvard has a $51 billion endowment, one might wonder why Harvard needs to monetize their sites in the first place.

The Harvard Gazette doesn’t. Rather, it’s a super-connector of all the microsites and communities that help raise Harvard's profile internally and for alumni abroad. So what are the mechanics behind this?

Macworld: Coding a New AI Experience – Eliminating the Buyer Guide Puzzle?

By Vahe Arabian and Jeremy Fremont

As publishers, we all know the way to reach an audience is by anticipating demand and getting ahead of its peak by providing timely value. However, do AI-assisted features help aid the user's journey to purchase?

We explore MacWorld, your source for all things Apple and one of the leading industry news sites.


By Vahe Arabian

🔔 Subscriber-based content strategy

Today, I’d like to share a case study of how Stears executed a subscriber-focused content and live blogging strategy during an election year. There are a number of lessons that I believe digital publishers can take away.

Providing value-led content for existing subscribers whilst attracting new ones requires a lead-in strategy strategy. Stears provides economic and industry data and insight to facilitate decision-making for global organizations investing and operating in Africa.

Many larger publishers received the 'Trump bump' in the past due to key election coverage. Let's dive into Stears' success story (how we helped) and how you can do this during the 2024 election year.

Key Strategy Highlights

🔑 Addressing Paywall SEO Visibility Challenges & Retaining Audiences: Including the necessary markup, i.e., accessiblefreee and advising on front blocking - CSS approach to avoiding scraping content helped increase their explainer content and maintain users.

🔑 Turning Events Into Engagement Opportunities: Stears leveraged their unique insights and commentary to drive traffic and conversions by launching a live blogging platform during Nigeria's elections.

🔑 Unlocking SEO Potential: Stears' approach to programmatic SEO sets a blueprint for success in driving lead-in traffic and ongoing baseline traffic. They created an election center outlining all of the candidates in all region's polling numbers and biographies, which essentially aids users in learning about the candidates they could


✔️ Measurable Impact: From a 2-fold increase in traffic (3 million users) in a 6-week period in the 2023 election in comparison to the 2019 election.

✔️ Credibility Boost: Earning links from reputable sites, i.e., NYTimes and The Guardian, solidified Stears' position as a trusted source of information.

Your Action Plan

Reflect on your current election coverage strategy and identify areas where you can apply Stears' insights. Can you put together an explainer series that can retain users? Can you set up a live blog to engage and convert live audiences? Can you use repositories of information and create a service that not only brings awareness to important issues but makes it an essential service for your community and audience?


How many news websites block AI crawlers? Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

By the end of 2023, 48% of the most widely used news websites across ten countries were blocking OpenAI’s crawlers. A smaller number, 24%, were blocking Google’s AI crawler. Almost every website (97%) that decided to block Google’s AI crawler was also blocking OpenAI’s crawlers.
Read more ▸

Vice Media to stop publishing on | The Wall Street Journal

Vice Media said it would stop publishing content on its flagship website and plans to cut hundreds of jobs, following a failed effort by owner Fortress Investment Group to sell the embattled digital publisher and its brands.
Read more ▸

NYT plans to debut new generative AI ad tool later this year | Axios

The New York Times is recruiting partners to test new ad-targeting solutions using generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) beginning next quarter. It plans to make the new tool widely available to marketers in the second half of the year.
Read more ▸

Google tests removing the News tab from search results | Financial Times

Google confirmed some users were not seeing the News filter as part of ongoing testing. “We’re testing different ways to show filters on Search and as a result, a small subset of users were temporarily unable to access some of them,” a Google spokesperson confirmed.
Read more ▸

AI is a big opportunity for the news media. Let’s not blow it. | Columbia Journalism Review

There are real challenges that this new technology will unleash and significant questions to answer about how to install guardrails that reduce potential harms to our audiences, our organizations, and our business models.
Read more ▸