In 2017, I joint-led a Design Thinking workshop with the WSJ to come up with innovative ideas to solve a tricky ad-space problem
The challenge: Google and a coalition of companies were disrupting the ad space with new technologies and standards that had implications for WSJ’s ad revenue model. WSJ were looking for fresh ideas on how to counter this.
The objective: To re-imagine the future of digital advertising by validating new and innovative ad revenue streams.
The solution: Through a series of innovation “Design Thinking” workshops, develop a handful of high-value concepts that are to be used as the basis for an up-coming WSJ-based hackathon.
A new product was commissioned to be developed by WSJ as a direct result of the innovation workshops.
Innovation framework and workshops
With the overarching innovation space pre-defined (ad space), a series of workshops were held with the goal of a) determining 3–5 challenges within the ad space, and from that, b) envisage a large number of “focus areas” that, c) through structured ideation, would be d) turned in to a handful of high-value concepts to prototype within a future hackathon.
Exploration and Inspiration
In preparation for the workshop, the team and I prepared a number of futuristic areas within the ad space that was getting us excited.
16 Focus areas
The initial workshop produced 16 focus areas
After ideating potential solutions within the 16 focus areas, 6 concepts were created.
CONCEPT #1: Optimize WSJ’s workflow to secure more high-value opportunities via “PROpose engine”, a platform that auto-parses incoming agency RFPs before suggesting optimized ad-campaign plans using machine learning.
CONCEPT #2: Differentiate WSJ and better reflect ROI for advertisers through more efficient reporting and proprietary metrics via “PROlytics”, a tool that leverages first-party data to deliver automated, customizable brand reports that fuel decision-making.
CONCEPT #3: Offer “break the internet” style ad units that excite advertisers via “Project Portal”, a physical ad space owned by WSJ that facilitates partnerships with brands to create never-before-seen ad experiences powered by AR and beacons.
CONCEPT #4: Better utilize WSJ’s differentiators in the native ad space via “WSJ Live Response”, by leveraging the news cycle and WSJ’s access to world-class insights to deliver more meaningful, relevant (brand) content, to its audience, in real time.
CONCEPT #5: Harness unique data collected from WSJ’s high-value members via “Project Feedback”, where native or sponsored feedback points are injected within articles to provide an effortless reader interaction that helps WSJ build tailored member profiles.
CONCEPT #6: Bridge the gap between the physical and digital membership experience via PROject, an enhanced physical readership experience using the WSJ Mobile App to detect articles and provide exclusive, innovative content.
Using the output of the workshops (the high-value concepts) as inspiration, a 24-hour hackathon was then conducted at WSJ’s offices in NYC. A brand-new product was commissioned to be developed by WSJ as a result of the innovation workshops.