NPR Everywhere: The Power of Flexible Content

Zach Brand (NPR, Digital media)
Mobile, Strategy & Business Models
Location: New York East
Tags: mobile
Average rating: ***..
(3.87, 15 ratings)

As the media leader who first brought a public content API to the market in 2008, NPR continues to innovate and learn about what it means to have flexible content. Our philosophy assumes that to maintain relevancy in an online world media companies need to be adroit at delivering content to multiple channels and disparate platforms. This in turn has lead us to keep a strategic focus on our API development. This positions us not just to meet our distribution needs, but has also helped drive business opportunity and allows for effective design and user experience whether in a browser or on a mobile device. This presentation will share our lessons learned and key metrics around successful creation and use of flexible content – from technology needs to business, editorial and design opportunities in an increasingly fragmented online product landscape.

Traffic and use of the NPR’s API continues to validate our approach. One of the key areas of growth has been usage by member stations and partnerships. Stations such as WBUR, KQED, and KPCC have made extensive use of the API while partners like Google, Yahoo! and other have built out tools and/or applications in their platforms. This presentation will cover some of the real usage and business opportunities that having flexible content has opened up NPR, as well as some of the major technical hurdles that have to be overcome.

Ensuring good architecture of systems and flexibility of content has also allowed NPR to have the freedom and agility to quickly deploy solid user experience and elegant design to multiple platforms. From the Peabody award winning website, to rapid development on mobile products, this approach has required changes and created new opportunities for editorial, design and product processes.

Indeed one of the areas NPR has been a leader in this past year is in mobile development. From the highly rated iPhone and Android apps, to the day one launch of both an iPad app and HTML5 website, this presentation will cover how flexible content both enabled NPR’s efforts in these areas but will also share how product development, user experience and design efforts all needed to incorporate the flexible content philosophy into their approaches.

Photo of Zach Brand

Zach Brand

NPR, Digital media

Zach J. Brand

SrDir, Chief of Technical Strategy & Operation,
NPR Digital Media

In the fall of 2007, Zach J. Brand joined NPR Digital Media to oversee the technical strategy and operation of NPR’s content on new media platforms, including, podcasts and mobile devices. He has focused on developing extensible and re-usable architectures for tools and content which support both NPR branded products as well as NPR member station’s efforts. Recent efforts have included the redesigned, and Peabody award winning website, mobile apps including iPhone, iPad and Android, and the NPR API.

Prior to joining NPR, Brand spent over twelve years at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. At different times his responsibilities included both application development leadership and infrastructure management for the various websites produced by WPNI including,, and BudgetTravel Online. He played key roles in development of the various content management systems, display ad and classified advertisement technologies, and the core infrastructure architecture which maintained a best in class availability for The Washington Post’s flagship website during his tenure.

Other achievements during Brand’s career include architecting a customization application and website for, overseeing technology for the first website produced by Barnes & Noble, and running his own multimedia company.

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Zach Brand
10/01/2010 11:18am EDT

Slides are now available at:

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Zach Brand
09/28/2010 9:40am EDT

Thanks everybody for being great audience / great questions. I will post slides in next day or so.

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Sara Peyton
09/28/2010 7:57am EDT

Excellent, well prepared, informative talk. Thank you.

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Mark J. Levitt
08/13/2010 11:14am EDT

This talk (well all the mobile sessions actually) has me really excited about this year’s W2E.

NPR clearly have their act together. Someone recently pointed out their iPad app to me in this list of 10 Essential iPad Apps for Publication Designers Looking forward to learning about the kinds of thinking that make their work so effective.

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