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Digital First Media Partners with Rumble to Rev Up Mobile Innovation

March 25, 2014 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

With a name like Digital First Media (DFM), one might not think that this is a company with deep roots in the newspaper business. But for DFM, rooted does not mean anchored. With a legacy of quality content at its core (including 48 Pulitzers) and a monthly audience of 67 million Americans who visit through more than 800 multi-platform products, DFM continues to push its business forward to live up to its name. Last week, the company announced a partnership with Rumble to upgrade DFM’s mobile technology, introduce real-time and dynamic content and ad-targeting capabilities, as well as launch an Innovation Lab.

DFM Rumble BannerWhen Head of Mobile and Social Products Dave Elchoness joined DFM nine months ago, he found that the state of its mobile was consistent with what he had seen previously at other digital-centric newspaper companies: “We had apps. We had mobile-optimized websites for the most part. But I felt we needed to position the business toward the future.” And while the company was doing a good job developing in-house, he took a look at some third party solutions to see if they could do even better.

Elchoness, who describes himself as “skeptical by nature” said he saw something “truly unique in Rumble…the ability for the publisher to own the presentation layer and to get at an enormous amount of data so we can direct our business in a much more informed way.” On the revenue side, Rumble’s solution will allow them to experiment and innovate in advertising based upon real-time data. The solution collects information about users’ location, interests, etc. and allows DFM to predict what users are interested in both in terms of content and advertising.

As Rumble’s Founder and CEO Al Azoulay sees it, “Mobile is one big operational headache for publishers.” While third-party solutions ease some of the pain, Azoulay points out that most of these solutions are “template-driven, limiting publishers’ content and advertising flexibility.” In addition, he finds that most publishers must rely on several solutions to contend with the full range of mobile: apps, advertising and website development. His objective is to provide “a single solution, across this incredibly fragmented mobile space, which allows a publisher to easily modify UX, the content mix and the entire ad map with the click of a button.”

For DFM, Elchoness says, the solution goes well beyond cost-effectiveness, ease-of-use and flexibility. “This solution will let us prototype quickly in a way we couldn’t do on our own…A solution like this will allow us to leapfrog others in the market by evolving much more rapidly.”

As DFM and Rumble began to work closely together in examining how the solution could help drive forward mobile content delivery and advertising, they found a shared affinity for innovation and experimentation that led them to partner on the launch of an Innovation Lab. “The problem with so many of these technology partnerships,” says Elchoness “is that you talk about innovation, you talk about a road map but then you get caught up in problems, crises and the work that has to go on every day.” So the two companies have joined together with a commitment to “do something incredible on a regular basis.”

In DFM, Azoulay says he found a partner that “wants to play. One that wants to do, not just talk about innovation.” He says we can expect “data-driven products, m-commerce, native ad solutions and UX-driven products that will continue to drive more and more engagement and loyalty with the users.” For Elchoness, the Innovation Labs will help DFM focus on mobile as “not just about delivering content. This keeps us thinking about how we can experiment, iterate, prototype, fail and quickly course-correct so that we are inventing the future of publishing.”

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