Stephen Baker

The Boost
Home - Viewing one post

Huffington Post: Crawling with data addicts

February 5, 2010General

The Huffington Post has recently passed the Washington Post in traffic. It got 410 million page views last month (and 35 million on the iPhone alone). Data is a big part of the site's success.

At the media panel at the Webtrends conference this week, Huffington Post's chief technology officer, Paul Berry, described some the methods. Every hour, editors see how the traffic that hour compared to the same hour a week ago. The site is a laboratory for so-called A/B testing, where stories are played against each other to see which draws more traffic--and how long each story should stay on the front page.

"We've built a lot of internal tools," Berry said. "A lot of us are addicted, like crack addicts, to these stats."

HuffPost also tracks readers' shifting moods by carrying out automated "sentiment analysis" on the two million comments the site generates every month. (In other words, machines look for key words and report on whether the comment was favorable or not. If you look at individual results, they're fairly primitive. A sentence like "I'm not saying I'm not crazy about it..." can throw a machine for a loop. But they get the big picture.)

Berry said that many large advertisers are still eager for traditional over-the-fold real estate. But they get more clicks when their ads accompany stories about them. Clicks on Bing ads "go through the roof" when the story's about Microsoft, he said. (Traditionally, at least some magazines have worked to separate advertisers from stories about them, but those days are disappearing fast...)

Berry said that in its editorial layout, Huffington follows the "Mullet Strategy:" Business in front, party out back.

add comment share:






©2014 Stephen Baker Media, All rights reserved.     Site by Infinet Design







Kirkus Reviews - https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/stephen-baker/the-boost/

LibraryJournal - Library Journal

Booklist Reviews - David Pitt

Locus - Paul di Filippo

read more reviews



Prequel to The Boost: Dark Site
- December 3, 2014


The Boost: an excerpt
- April 15, 2014


My horrible Superbowl weekend, in perspective
- February 3, 2014


My coming novel: Boosting human cognition
- May 30, 2013


Why Nate Silver is never wrong
- November 8, 2012


The psychology behind bankers' hatred for Obama
- September 10, 2012


"Corporations are People": an op-ed
- August 16, 2011


Wall Street Journal excerpt: Final Jeopardy
- February 4, 2011


Why IBM's Watson is Smarter than Google
- January 9, 2011


Rethinking books
- October 3, 2010


The coming privacy boom
- August 17, 2010


The appeal of virtual
- May 18, 2010