Case Study: Interactive One Hosts 70 Sites with WordPress VIP

Interactive One is the digital link to urban consumers, reaching millions of Black and Latino audiences 24/7.  They are currently #1 in the category with over 60 unique brands on both a national and local level. Their network of 70+ high-traffic websites are all hosted here on VIP Cloud Hosting.

We spoke with Grant Cerny, Senior Vice President Products, Operations & iOne Studios, about their decision to move from a self-hosted WordPress to VIP Cloud Hosting, and why it was the right choice for their network of sites.


Why did your team choose WordPress as the platform for the Interactive One network?

In 2008, when Interactive One was a brand new digital group of Radio One and trying to bring the organization up to speed with the digital and media advances in the industry, we chose WordPress and WordPress Multiuser as a platform to deliver all the national sites and local sites for the radio sites.

We extended the publishing experience to enable greater scale and efficiency by allowing content to syndicate from site to site.  This was remarkable in that the local sites were able to grab national news and hit publish, making it available on their local sites.  The local sites also started to publish event content back to national sites. This led to an incredible growth, and as a result, we decided to rethink the way we were structuring the sites. Our sites all now share a common WordPress theme which makes it very easy to maintain the codebase and to spin up new ones.

“We needed agility, we needed stability, and we needed security. We’ve got all three of those now with VIP, so now we can focus on the business part of our business instead of the infrastructure.” – Grant Cerny, Senior Vice President Products, Operations & iOne Studios.

Why did you choose VIP to host the network?

Uptime was one of the biggest selling points of VIP. We have huge spikes of traffic (for example, when Whitney Houston passed) as a lot of our content goes viral with our users on social networks, and VIP’s infrastructure is able to sustain those with no changes on our end; it just works!

Hosting with the VIP Cloud and working with the VIP developer team ensures that our code is not only up to WordPress coding standards, but that internally we have some guidelines and resources to use as best practices to make our development more secure and faster.

We needed agility, we needed stability, and we needed security. We’ve got all three of those now with VIP, so now we can focus on the business part of our business instead of the infrastructure.

Tell us more how syndication works across your national and local sites.

We have syndication services which are running on each of our sites, so we can easily turn one into a cross-post hub or syndication hub. In each of these hubs, we can subscribe to particular sites/markets, and then hand-pick which content get published on a national level, with just a click. We can also automate publishing certain content which is relevant, and cross-post across our national markets like Hello Beautiful down to specific local markets.

We use canonical tags to tell Google and other search engines which is the ‘master’ post, and therefore not duplicate content, and it links back to the original content.

How long did it take you to launch the Interactive One network with VIP?

After we stabilized the code we wanted for the common theme (about a month of work), we were able to roll out 60 live sites with VIP in 3 weeks. When we want to automate a new change across all the sites, we write a Selenium script and it enables the changes for all the sites at once.

How long does it take to launch a new site now on VIP?

It could be incredibly quick. Once we get a design approved internally with our theme layout options, which we designed to be as flexible and to meet as many needs as possible, all they need to do is give our team a vector logo and a basic design scheme and we can often stand up a site in a day!

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How does mobile rank in terms of importance for consuming your content?

Our audience traditionally skews towards mobile – 40% of traffic on our national brands is mobile. In designing the site, we’ve managed to get 100% of our site features into a responsive mobile experience, so our users get just as good of an experience from their mobile or tablet device as their desktop. We’ve seen engagement go up 2x since we launched this responsive design, and we’ve received a lot of feedback from users and partners on how well the sites appear on tablets, too.

Why does Interactive One believe WordPress’s status as an open source project has contributed to the success of the project?

It’s the power of the open source community which makes WordPress as good as it is. With more than 23,000 plugins in the Plugin Repository, you’re looking at saving a lot of money by having a starting point for a lot of your development. You’re a part of a community where all boats are intended to rise.

Want more information about WordPress for large-scale / enterprise installs? Contact VIP Services.


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