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Belo’s Joe Weir: Wizard of the Web

Eighteen months since being named Belo’s general manager of interactive, Joe Weir has made a major mark on the 20 station sites he oversees. Weir migrated the sites from an internal content management system to one using Broadcast Interactive Media, which allows for better video delivery, a wider range of digital products and faster turnaround time for breaking news.

“It’s been a big effort,” says Weir, 38. “But the sites are more vibrant, more interactive and more engaging.”

Weir has spent 14 years at Belo, working on both the newspaper and station sides. With a decade of digital experience, Weir has a good feel for what works on the Web. He’s poised to launch an online couponing initiative in the coming weeks, with coupons served up to match a user’s Web activity.

Weir is also spearheading a new local ad network, called BeLocal Media, which aggregates blogs and other local sites of interest in Belo’s TV markets, and ties them to a common ad network. Weir has launched iPhone applications for all Belo stations, and debuted an “advanced targeting” foray that delivers more pertinent online ads.

“It helps us understand more about users,” he points out, “and match the interests of users with those of advertisers.”

Belo’s stations, which include KHOU Houston and KING Seattle, are news powerhouses, and Weir has ensured that the station sites are vital 24/7 breaking news outlets—and revenue-generators—in their own right. The sites generated $8.1 million in the second quarter, a 14% gain over the same quarter a year ago.

Page views in June and July were up 20%- 30% over last year, according to Weir, while about 2½ times as many videos are being viewed year-over-year.

Belo’s growth on the digital side isn’t lost on company brass. “Joe has been probably the best—I’m not going to say one of the best— Internet sales guys around,” says Belo VP of Digital Operations Ray Heacox. “He understands the business inside and out, and he’s able to put together a great team of people who overperform.”