If we've seen one trend in the past few years across digital media (besides large-scale growth), it's a transparency that is often lacking in the corporate boardroom culture of major tradtional media brands. The most recent example of this came this afternoon when Business Insider CEO and founder Henry Blodget "opened the kimono" and published an extensive 90-slide presentation on the site's growth and strategy.
Titled "Business Insider Secrets Revealed!" Blodget bluntly and sensationally (as is his style) laid out the site's founding vision, complete with screenshots from the site's back end which show writer pageview counts for this month, traffic analytics throughout Business Insider's history, and lessons Blodget and his team have learned while running a digital-only news organization.
While their are nuggets of wisdom peppered throughout the fast-talking slideshow about digital's fundamental differences from print (Blodget is correct that digital cannot support a print infrastructure), the most important part of the piece is the fact that Blodget took the time to publish the information. While it helps that the data is almost entirely positive for Business Insider, it is a continuation of a digital media trend focusing on analytics, something traditional media companies might want to better understand.
Sites like BuzzFeed turn back-end analytics into a site feature of sorts and users can check out graphs to watch exactly how a post goes viral, going beyond a raw pageview count. Both the newly redesigned Mashable and Digg have also introduced chart representations of a story's view trajectory across the Web as a way to include readers in the online experience.
Traditional media companies have more at stake and heavily guard their in-house analytics but it's a process that, when looking at most online publishers, seems to be dated. Audiences online are demanding to be drawn further into a site's experience. We've seen it with commenting, where a devoted site following can add their views to the conversation and perhaps now the second wave is allowing the reader to watch as the digital sausage is made.
Update: Blodget told Adweek via email his reason for the posts stems from a genuine curiousity from the outside regarding digital journalism. "A lot of people don't yet understand these differences [between print and digital]," Blodget wrote.
He continued, "It's also still early days for the industry. I think the digital news industry as a whole is in the same phase as cable news (e.g., CNN) was in the 1980s. And I think that, in 10-20 years, you'll see some of these upstart companies develop into huge, global digital journalism brands."