It’s been nearly two years since Condé Nast Publications bought Wired News back from Lycos—which acquired the site in 1999—in a $25 million deal that united Wired.com and Wired under the same owner after an eight-year separation. In its last month under Lycos, Wired’s unique visitors were approximately 3.5 million, according to Evan Hansen, Wired.com’s editor-in-chief. Now, he says, the site averages 10 million.
Hansen says the site’s big goal for 2009 is to grow its base. One of the ways Wired plans to do this, he says, is to dramatically improve its multimedia offerings. “Right after the merger, there was lots of blocking and tackling,” says Hansen. “Now we can really hone in on the bits and pieces, and experiment, too.”
As such, Wired has taken a page from the Google playbook, allowing itsdevelopers to devote 10 percent of their time to “anything they want.” And Wired has utilized Amazon.com’s EC2, a pay-as-you-go “cloud computing” service to experiment at a lower cost. “You use it to try things out, before you find out a way to monetize them,” says Hansen. “We can do things without sinking $2 million to $3 million into an experimental project—you can do it little by little.”
At the top of Hansen’s wish list for the year is a state-of-the-art photo gallery—one that has enough automation as to not annoy editors.
Wired.com is also looking at launching a series of widgets that Hansen says could change the game for the way the site approaches content. First up is a Web reputation ranking tool, similar to one that Google recently launched, which takes the user data from some of the big social networks like Facebook and MySpace using open API, crunches it, and spits out a list-style ranking broadcast across Wired’s widget network.
“We’re trying to one-up Google,” Hansen says. “I think there is an opportunity for media companies that do these big, enterprise, proprietary lists. The Fortune 500, the Inc. 5000—people are going to be able to build robust lists using all of this data on the fly.”
STRENGTHS: Wired spent two years getting the technology in place for its current push for innovation.
WEAKNESSES: Some of the most common Web functions, like photo galleries, are admittedly pedestrian for a site like Wired.com.
OPPORTUNITIES: There is a huge opportunity for Wired, and all media companies that do lists, to crunch the “deluge of data” on the Web.
THREATS: If they don’t, an upstart will most certainly do it for them. “The cornerstones of these big brands, based on data, are becoming easier to build.”
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