Foreign media observation: AI helps media “circle fans” and “income-generating”

Leveraging AI, the number of digital users of the “Daily Telegraph” has increased by 45%, and the “Globe and Mail” has generated $10 million in paid revenue.

Entering the third decade of the 21st century, the demographic dividend of Internet development is gradually fading, and a new round of industrial transformation is rolling up a storm around the world, and AI technology is one of the core engines of this storm. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) estimates, by 2030, artificial intelligence will contribute 15.7 trillion U.S. dollars in output value to the global economy. The media also regard AI technology as an important starting point for integration and transformation.

If the AI ​​technology initially brought to the media, in addition to the new work model and process, there are also ethical issues and the fear of being replaced. Today, we may have reached a certain balance between humans and AI-the media is using AI technology to make news content dissemination smarter and more efficient.

“Daily Telegraph”: Leveraging AI to drive social media account user growth

The “Daily Telegraph” was founded in 1855 and launched an electronic version in 1994. It is the largest-selling one of the four national “premium” daily newspapers in the UK. The newspaper has promoted the construction of new platforms and the adoption of cutting-edge technologies. At present, its mobile terminal has attracted more than 15 million users per month.

In 2019, the newspaper proposed the “10-1-23” strategy, which is to achieve the phased goal of 10 million registered users and 1 million paying users by 2023. The key element of the implementation of this strategy is social media. Social media can not only contribute a large number of users, but also help media accounts to interact with the audience, promote users to increase trust in traditional media , and greatly increase users’ willingness to subscribe.

The “Daily Telegraph” currently has more than 16 million followers on major social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter are its main battlefields, while Instagram and LinkedIn are becoming increasingly prominent in the value of subscriptions. In addition, the “Daily Telegraph” has tailored content for every social media platform including TikTok and Snapchat.

“Daily Telegraph” given that the average age of its user base has reached 46 years old, and these users may not be the main force of paid subscriptions, so this newspaper is trying to attract more young audiences from social media platforms. “Daily Telegraph” social media director Elise Johnson said: “Social media platforms are of great significance to our integrated transformation.”

However, one of the major challenges facing the “Daily Telegraph” is how to turn social media user engagement into actual action for paid subscriptions. “Daily Telegraph” social media director Johnson pointed out that although it offers a one-month trial version, users may not necessarily subscribe for a fee after the trial ends. “The process of persuading fans to become subscribers is quite slow, and users tend to be reluctant to make changes because they have subscribed to other newspapers.” But Johnson also believes that there is an indisputable fact on any platform: high user engagement , Will definitely drive the increase in subscriptions.

Johnson said, “Always ask users to click on our website, the result is not always beneficial to us; on the contrary, if we proactively display articles on social media and tell the complete story-we proactively provide information services instead of letting them Come to us. This approach may better reflect the media’s respect for the audience’s usage habits, and may eventually bring more subscribers to the media.”

The “Daily Telegraph” has adopted a dual strategy on the Facebook platform, and the effect of attracting fans is remarkable:

1) In order to increase user participation, actively plan the content of posting and optimize the timing of posting.

2) Arrange the content of the post in advance, and focus your time and attention on other user activities.

In order to optimize these two functions, the “Daily Telegraph” introduced the artificial intelligence software Echobox on the main social media-it can achieve greater social influence for the media and automate their social media activities.

The content published by the “Daily Telegraph” will comprehensively refer to two factors, artificial intelligence and reporter screening. “We take a human-led approach to decide what content to publish; and then let Echobox decide when to publish the content.” Johnson said: “AI has helped us offload part of the heavy workload. We don’t need every half of the work now. I’ll follow up on the post to be published in a few hours.”

The “Daily Telegraph” also uses A/B testing on Facebook, including testing the effects of different titles, messages, images or videos, in order to find the version of the content that will most appeal to the audience. “When we want to demonstrate the power of shorter headlines, or when we are trying to help reporters understand which method is more effective, we use A/B testing.” Johnson added.

Foreign media observation: AI helps media "circle fans" and "income-generating"

Legend: A/B test for news headlines (Source: WNIP)

“Media that conducts A/B tests on Facebook posts usually receive a 25% increase in clicks.” Echobox CEO Antoine Amann said: “Traditional media social media operations teams usually spend a lot of time on social media. On the platform, they share or forward the best content, and push the content to users at the most suitable time to obtain the ideal traffic and user engagement. Many media have realized that using AI can not only relieve the editorial team It can also optimize its own social media publishing strategy.”

Antoine Amann pointed out: “As seen from the experience of the Daily Telegraph, the editorial team spends a lot of time saved on more valuable work, such as producing compelling content and attracting more paid subscribers. .”

Supported by the AI ​​automation strategy of social media, the “Daily Telegraph” is moving towards the goal of “10-1-23”-the overall number of clicks on its Facebook account has increased by 38%, of which AI is involved in publishing Posts have achieved a 205% increase in clicks compared to manually shared content. A big boost to the above performance is that as of August 2020, due to the rapid growth of epidemic reports and travel-related news, the number of digital users of the Daily Telegraph has increased by 45%.

The Globe and Mail uses AI to create more than $10 million in paid revenue

As a traditional media with a history of 175 years, how does the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest nationally distributed paper media, keep up with the pace of the digital age?

Greg Piechota, a resident researcher at the International News Media Association (INMA), said, “Paywalls are not a real technical project. The launch of paywalls is to allow the media to adapt to changing user needs. At this time, the media must learn to overcome the inertia of decision-making and complement technical shortcomings. It is a good opportunity for traditional media to reinvent and stimulate employees’ enthusiasm. On the whole, the paywall is a transformation project.

At the recent summit INMA subscription, “Globe and Mail” editor David Walmsley detailed the number mentality word of transformation.

1) Provide data that complements the editor’s intuition

The Globe and Mail established a paywall in 2012. One of the difficulties it faces is to evaluate that placing an article on the paywall can bring dozens of subscribers, and this is different from thousands of people in the open browsing state. Compared with pageviews, what is the difference in value between the two.

In the long history before the establishment of the paywall, the media paid more attention to page views, because this indicator is closely related to advertising revenue. But today, with the construction of paywalls actively promoted, the role of subscription revenue in the media survival battle has become more and more important.

Subsequently, “The Globe and Mail” created the artificial intelligence-driven optimization and prediction platform Sophi, which was awarded two awards in the “Global Media Awards” of the International News Media Association. These two awards belong to Two categories: Best Use of Data to Automate or Personalize and Best in Show for North America.

Walmsley said, “Sophi can quickly make decisions that complement the editor’s intuition based on existing data, thereby making the editing team more efficient. Now editors can spend more time on other more challenging projects related to users. Sophi has provided solid data support to help the media cope with fierce competition.”

2) Distribution strategy is crucial

Sophi gave a commercial score to every piece of news in The Globe and Mail. In order to grasp the adaptability of pages and content, the editorial department organized a special algorithm for Sophi domestication to comprehensively evaluate the contribution rate of each article in user pull, retention, subscription and advertising revenue. At this time, it is not only concerned Only page views. The relevant data of the above indicators are available to all editors.

Combining the information provided by Sophi with the editor’s own news intuition can better identify the audience’s behavior patterns and help to further clarify important issues such as “where are the users, who are the users, and when are readers viewing our website” . Not only that, users are also more aware of what news content they consume, what services they have paid for, and what are the reasons for users to insist on subscribing. At the same time, the media can also optimize content strategies on computer, mobile, and social media platforms.

The Globe and Mail learned that although business news and investment stories are more conducive to converting readers into subscribers, the release time of the content will also have a significant impact on stimulating subscriptions. Walmsley said: “The distribution strategy is very important. What users want and the potential needs they ignore are the core indicators of our content distribution.”

Foreign media observation: AI helps media "circle fans" and "income-generating"

Legend: The Globe and Mail releases the clock on weekdays (Source: INMA Summit)

The Globe and Mail tried to distribute on weekends, and reserved certain articles for publication on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. According to Sophi’s data, this strategy helped the Globe and Mail increase its users by 54% in the next three months. 

The continuous monitoring data provided by Sophi also helped the Globe and Mail optimize resource allocation and create new content themes, and these topics are usually the previously mediocre business sectors of the Globe and Mail. For example, according to Sophi’s data, The Globe and Mail has built a strong team on the subject of “climate change” that is highly concerned by users. In addition, Sophi has also helped the Globe and Mail to better identify and reduce invalid content.

At present, more than 99% of the content on the digital version of the “Globe and Mail” is published by Sophi. It will check the published content every 10 minutes to filter out articles worth updating and promoting, and decide when to post on social media pages. And promote on real-time communication platforms.

Foreign media observation: AI helps media "circle fans" and "income-generating"

Caption: Sophi added over 69% of home page clicks and $10 million in paid income for The Globe and Mail (Source: INMA Summit)

Similar to Echobox, The Globe and Mail will also use Sophi to conduct A/B tests on published content, and optimize the website design based on the user subscription tendency model indicated by the data. By replacing the typical content paywall model with a “user-oriented paywall” supported by Sophi, the Globe and Mail has generated more than $10 million in revenue.

Walmsley said: “Nothing can replace the intuition of journalists. Sophi can’t predict what strategies will work, but it can find content worth trying from past user behavior patterns. Sophi doesn’t do anyone’s work. It does not replace anyone else’s position. It has become an important starting point for the media.”


The emergence of AI technology has made people’s imagination more infinite possibilities. What we are facing is not “when technology will threaten humans”, but “how humans should develop in coordination with technology”. The progress in media business brought about by the participation of the AI ​​systems of the Daily Telegraph and The Globe and Mail in news distribution decision-making has shown us that in the face of technology, what the media needs to think about is not just worrying about being replaced by AI, but letting editors and AI Each perform its own duties, so that better quality content can be spread more widely in a more efficient and intelligent way.

As Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of MIT’s Digital Economy Initiative, said: “I don’t think the current technology framework can directly lead to anything. The point is that the future is still murky. How can we shape the future?” 

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