The New York Times has hired away BuzzFeed’s head of audience development to lead the continued expansion of its popular Wirecutter site.
Roxanne Emadi will be the Times’ new director of editorial strategy and audience development for Wirecutter, the paper’s independent site of recommendations and reviews for an array of consumer products. Given the angle, it’s also home to lots of affiliate links, which pull in revenue for publishers when readers click through a link and purchase. The vertical is also an opportunity for a lot of “partnership” content, so much so that Vox’s tech vertical Recode reported this week that Amazon was approaching publishers like the Times with an offer to pay them upfront to expand consumer-oriented verticals into new markets.
Of Emadi’s hire, Wirecutter editor in chief Ben Frumin, who joined the Times in December, said she will be “taking a strong hand in editorial strategy, coverage planning, content conception and leading our efforts to make sure as many people as possible benefit from Wirecutter’s content.”
Wirecutter is an emerging area of focus for the Times, as it looks to hit 10 million digital subscribers by 2025. Chief executive officer Mark Thompson, speaking to analysts on Wednesday about the company’s quarterly results, declined to address the report on Amazon. “We straightforwardly don’t comment on conversations with partners,” he sad.
But Thompson did mention how “pleased” he’s been with Wirecutter’s performance and that the plan is to expand it from its current focus on the U.S.
“We do have some international licensing of Wirecutter content and, over time, we will definitely consider whether there are ways of building an international business, alongside its growing and very successful domestic business,” Thompson said. “But I want to say that separate from [the Amazon] story and we don’t comment on such stories.”
He added that when thinking about sites and products that fall outside of the Times’ “core” business of news, there’s a lot of potential for crossover, something the company is just starting to delve into more. With the success of independent products like Crossword and Cooking, and the just-launched independent site Parenting, Thompson said they have potential to relate to Wirecutter.
“Something we haven’t fully developed yet is the addition of Wirecutter ‘Lair,'” Thompson said, likely referring to a source within Wirecutter for products that can surface in other verticals. “In Cooking, we think it could be really quite interesting, and similarly with Parenting and in the other products — there are more products potentially to come after these ones. So our strategy is for products which make sense commercially as stand-alone products, but which can also work with the core to build a kind of constellation of products, which are worth more that the sum of the parts.”
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