Digital Innovation Guest Columns
4 mins read

Publishers: Turn to AI to improve site and content performance

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News publications are wrestling with uploading more content faster across more news channels and media than ever before. And with fewer resources.

In the US, overall newsroom employment decreased by 23% between 2008 and 2019, down from 114,000 to 88,000 according to the Pew Research Center’s analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data compiled from Statista shows that across the pond, British journalists faired slightly better. 

One solution for hard-pressed digital publishers is to employ a solution that doesn’t work by the hour or even need to sleep or take a vacation – Artificial Intelligence (AI).

To be clear, the role of the journalist is sacred and critically important. However, AI technology has already been used in content industries for the past decade, optimizing certain tasks that are faster and often more effectively managed by technology, freeing human journalists to focus on journalism.

AI can provide publishers with new opportunities to serve their users more efficiently and effectively, making way for a number of essential new platforms. Here are just a few examples:

With publishers creating more content at a faster pace than ever, it’s hard to know which content should be sent to which user when and on what device. To address this problem, Piano developed AI technology that analyzes content performance so publishers may select the best content to send to each user at the right time and to the preferred device, thus increasing user engagement and content consumption. By analyzing various touchpoints, like when users open an email, click on an article, or what kinds of articles are read and for how long, Piano’s technology is able to make recommendations in a way that a human editor never could.

While Piano uses AI technology to enhance content engagement, GeoEdge uses AI to eliminate malicious advertising and content. No one wants to fall victim to an Internet scam, but increasingly, unsuspecting victims are clicking on malicious ads and content and providing credit card and other personal information to unscrupulous actors. Sometimes, malvertisers go beyond ads and create entirely fake websites to lure users, as recently happened to the BBC. To address this challenge, GeoEdge uses AI technology to monitor and record the behavior of every ad and landing page to uncover and isolate such ads.

We are also seeing more AI integrated into the online news ecosystem. New technology implemented by France Télévisions’ Data and Artificial Intelligence department helps journalists harness the power of AI to improve their reporting. Their team of 15 data scientists, data engineers, and data analysts worked together to analyze nearly 200 debates across France for the most recent regional elections. By using facial recognition, text recognition, speech-to-text technology, and natural language processing, the team was able to recognize and classify topics which enabled producing meaningful statistics for each debate including data visualizations. And combining data from multiple debates enabled telling new stories powered by charts, timelines, and maps made possible by the data processed and analyzed.

Another area where newsrooms can benefit from AI technology is with localized news coverage. The downsizing of newsrooms has had a big impact on local news coverage, particularly in the US where many cities and towns are now without local news organizations. One company that is helping news organizations provide local news by using AI technology is United Robots. The company’s robots use AI to choose the story angle and Natural Language Generation (NLG) to ‘write’ the story from structured data sets. Sweden-based Gota Media uses United Robots to publish AI-written stories covering sports, company registrations, real estate and traffic to provide updates to all of the publisher’s local communities. Focusing on sports, Netherlands-based regional publisher NDC will combine United Robots’ technology with crowdsourcing in order to cover all 60,000 regional football (soccer) matches which will be played in this first post-COVID-19 season coming up.

But it’s ad revenue that helps to pay the publishers’ bills. And publishers can use AI technology to raise advertising revenue too. For example, WhizzCo’s platform serves the content recommendation ad unit that will generate the most revenue. Historically, content recommendation vendors signed exclusive deals with publishers. WhizzCo enables publishers to work with as many content recommendation vendors as they want. With more choice, the company’s technology can select the best performing ad and increase publisher revenue.

While each company is approaching AI differently for different purposes, it’s clear that AI technology can make the newsroom of the 21st century, smarter, safer, richer, and able to tell stories that were previously just not possible….

Alon Rosenthal
CEO, WhizzCo

WhizzCo is transforming the native content recommendation space into a transparent, fair, and competitive ecosystem. By opening publisher inventory to multiple, competing vendors, WhizzCo empowers publishers to harness the best each has to offer with just one integration, thus raising content recommendation revenue by 37%. The company’s proprietary algorithm, a machine learning neural network, predicts the CPM from the 40 content recommendation vendors worldwide, considering geolocation, device, site, widget location, and more, and then serves the ad with the highest predicted CPM. For more information, please visit: