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Publishers using artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence to support publishers’ strategic needs

It’s clear that AI can play a valuable role in helping publishers with their operations. Key activities unlocked by this technology – such as data analytics and automation – are among the top investment areas for publishers in the coming year, Damian Radcliffe, Professor in Journalism at University of Oregon, argues in a blog post for Digital Content Next

“Previously, as the Knight Foundation has found, “when we talk[ed] about AI in newsrooms, we seem to lean heavily on the newsgathering part of the process and maybe do not pay as much attention to the product or the business side of the ecosystem”, Radcliffe writes.

“In 2023, that may begin to change, as we see an overdue shift in the thinking about the role that AI plays in supporting the strategic needs of publishers.“

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“From shaping the content you see (Pink News’ positive news filter), to aiding with translations of new international editions (Le Monde’s digital English language product) and improving your SEO (Summari and other tools), AI is here to stay and increasingly integral to publisher strategies.” 

“Against a challenging business backdrop, as outlets begin to focus more on areas like product, subscriptions and retention, AI’s contribution to a publisher’s success will become more prominent and important than ever.”

He mentions two key AI-trends for publishers to closely follow and potentially adopt.

  • Leveling-up content, and ad, personalization. Based on their interests and preferences, AI can personalize the news that publishers deliver to readers. Its usage is only likely to increase and become more ubiquitous. Alongside content, AI can also be used to deliver a better ad experience. Publishers like Condé Nast are using machine learning to find patterns that can lead to more personalized and contextual ads. In a cookie-less future this type of approach will be essential if ads are to be targeted and relevant. 
  • Improving and streamlining workflows. With cuts being seen across the media landscape, a key challenge for publishers in 2023 will involve maintaining output levels (never mind launching new products and verticals) with fewer staff. It can further support social media and off-platform strategies too. He mentions that Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has used AI to help editors understand which stories to put behind the paywall. 
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Among other uses of AI technologies that need to be on a publisher’s radar he lists:

  • Driving engagement. One of the most common ways publishers are using AI and machine learning is through AI-powered algorithms which personalize content recommendations. Personalized recommendation technology has long been the mainstay of platforms like Amazon, Spotify, and Netflix. Now it’s becoming increasingly common for other forms of content too. 
  • Tailoring your paywall. There are many different types of paywall possibilities. The end goal is the same: to convert readers into paying subscribers.One of these models, dynamic paywalls, deploys AI to change free article limits. As a result, users hit the paywall at different times, based on their behaviors and other indicators that help to determine a consumer’s propensity to pay.
  • Creating content. Many early newsroom experiments with AI focused on the potential to craft stories that typically follow a predictable formula. One of the earliest to leverage AI for content creation. Alongside freeing up reporters, the technology has allowed AP to create more content. 
  • Distributing content. A further potential benefit of AI can be seen in its ability to support publishers in their desire to get material in front of audiences – wherever they may be. He mentions that POLITICO Europe has used AI to convert two of their popular newsletters, Brussels Playbook and London Playbook into daily podcasts. A further mainstream iteration of this idea is also being developed by Google. Dyani Najdi, Managing Director of Video and Display EMEA, has highlighted how the tech giant is experimenting with a tool to reformat landscape videos for YouTube. 
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