Washington Post-Bloomberg Co-Branded Biz Section Goes Live; Worth The Wait?

Some eight months after announcing a partnership for a co-branded online business page, the Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) and Bloomberg have finally delivered. The result is a pretty standard, informative business page that seems to make good use of both partners. Some readers will probably skip right by the branding; some probably will be a little confused by the way the business section blends — or doesn’t blend — with the rest of the site.

First Look: The new version was a little glitchy this morning, producing errors instead of editorial at times, but we know all too well that those things can happen. (If it persists, that’s a different issue.) One glitch in the ad over a set of modules with tools and info was a little funny, serving up a double from the New York Times about how it delivers. The size of the ad appears to be dynamic, pushing down the modules for a deeper vertical. I haven’t had a chance to play much with the tools yet.

The mix: You have to be registered to see full articles or use the tools whether they’re from WaPo or Bloomberg. So far, the content is as promised — a blend of both. As I mentioned above, some readers might be confused by the content mix. Some article pages are labeled “Post Business.” A section at the bottom of the business front shows the WaPo logo on the left and Bloomberg on the right. So far, so good. But the WaPo area includes a way to move between WaPo columnists and includes their mugshots, while the Bloomberg list has no toggle or images. Local business news is grouped together but isn’t all WaPo: some is staff, some is labeled Bloomberg, some is from AP but not labeled until you click through.

Mobile: The co-branding is completely missing as best I can tell from the mobile edition and the iPhone app. The mobile edition puts business near the bottom of the sections, below Arts & Living and Entertainment — suggesting fairly or not, that the paper doesn’t see business as a priority of its mobile users.

Pitching the enhanced section: Clicking on some text by an ad running right below the masthead on the WashingtonPost.com front page opens to a promo about the launch; clicking on the ad goes to the business front. A little confusing but gets the message across. Unfortunately, part of that message is close to gibberish: a red arrow pointing readers to the new site with the text Get business driving news today.