If there is one industry that knows what it means to be digitally disrupted, it’s the media. With massive ongoing changes in the way people consume content – online, mobile and through social media channels – the media industry has had to quickly transition to digital, while also figure out new business models.
looks at several examples of media companies that are making this
transition and the technologies that are driving their businesses
recommendations and targeting
any content driven website, analytics rule. The longer a reader
stays on the website clicking through to other articles or content
items, the better, along with a high frequency of returning to the website, and
sharing its content with their social media networks.
beyond monitoring traditional aggregated data in Google
Analytics, recommender systems have started to come onto the scene
for editorial businesses, meaning it’s not just applicable to
e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay. Better targeted content and
personalising user experience does not only mean more audience engagement, but also makes a more compelling proposition to
advertisers, which are a major source of revenue for media companies.
Australia’s Bauer Media, a magazine publisher with more than 60
websites, has a recommender system for creating more
detailed viewer segments, to better predict which piece of
content to serve to the viewer based on what he/she is likely to resonate with.
got a project that we are working on right now to automatically tag
all of our content so that we can get a better insight into what
people are actually reading about. We have a lot of sites on
different platforms, and they’ll have stuff categorised as a
celebrity news story, for example. That’s really as much insight
as we can get from that, so it’s not really that useful to an
advertiser,” said Simon
Rumble, head of data, analytics and CRM at Bauer Media Australia.
“If we are able to dig deeper into who those people are, which
celebrity they are looking at and what kind of news story it actually
is, we can start building up more detailed segments.”
is using natural language processing to pull out key terms in an
article, and then look up the meaning of those terms in an
external database. If a viewer is reading an article on actress
Jennifer Lawrence, for example, the system would scan the article
and pull out the key term ‘Jennifer Lawrence’. It would then notice
it’s capitalised to identify it as a proper noun, and then look it
up in an external database that states the term refers to a person, the fact that she is
an American actress, and a list of the movies she has starred in.
is not only used to recommend other articles tagged with the
actress’s name, but also build up a segment for people who have
viewed more than three stories on Jennifer Lawrence in the last 30
could be called the ‘Jennifer Lawrence enthusiast’ segment. So when
the next Hunger Games movie [starring Lawrence] comes
out, instead of just pitching to the distributor, ‘Hey, we’ve got this
segment of people who are interested in celebrity stuff’, we’ve
actually got a much more detailed set of segments that we can also
throw at them,” Rumble said.
one giant category [celebrities] is limiting for us. So by being able
to automatically tag our content, we can segment our audiences better
but also get a better insight into what people are actually looking
segments is also a focus for News Corp Australia, one of the largest media
companies in the country. Chief technology officer, Alisa Bowen, who
recently took over from former CIO Tom Quinn, said it’s silly to
serve up the exact same home page, site navigation and layout
to every single one of News Corp’s 4 million monthly viewers.
are determined to break out of this out-of-date view, so can we know how
the site navigation should be structured or the content should be
presented for all our users,” she said.
and her team have been pulling together data signals directly
from viewers when they interact with the content, when they fill in
their details for entering a competition, when registering with the
websites, and when commenting on articles.
team has also combined that with data from its partners through Quantium,
which includes retailers and bankers, so they can tell not only what
viewers are interested in reading about but also what they spend
their money on.
Meeker [known as ‘Queen of the Net’] has a wonderful expression, she
says: ‘An app should never ask a consumer what it ought to already
know’. And that’s our guiding philosophy when it comes to the work we
are doing on personalisation and the application of big data insights
for product experiences,” Bowen said.
Corp Australia is also leveraging Unruly’s ShareRank technology, which it
acquired last year. The proprietary algorithm measures the emotional
response of a viewer when watching a particular video, and predicts
the likelihood of that video going viral as a result.
is a mobile advertising network for video ads that play in stream and
are very specifically targeted for different segment types based on
how likely that video is to engage certain emotions and responses
from the audience,” Bowen explained.
was fed 10 million streams of data, hundreds of millions of videos,
along with people’s emotional reaction to them online and how many
times they’ve been shared on social media.
provide guidance to video editors and producers around how to re-cut
the clip to get the most emotional reaction,” Bowen said. “They
can also provide information to marketers and advertisers about whom
to target their clip to.”
example, the Queensland Government created an awareness campaign
targeted at young male surfers on how to stay safe in the water. But
when Unruly did its tests it identified that the strongest emotional
reaction actually came from fathers with young men who are out
surfing, rather than the intended demographic.
what Unruly advised the government to do with that campaign
was to take a portion of their media spend and allocate it towards
this additional target market with the expectation that they would be
the ones who would virally share it, because they have the strongest
emotional reaction,” Bowen said.
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Yahoo7 goes down virtual and wearables path
Yahoo7 is investigating how virtual reality (VR) could apply to its business and enhance the audience’s experience when interacting with content.
“I think VR will change every aspect of the digital world and media will have a part to play in that,” said Paul Russell, director of technology at Yahoo7.
An example of how VR headsets could be used is for major events that Yahoo7 reports on at the scene. By having a 360 degree camera for the journalist to take footage of the surroundings, viewers at home can feel like they are also experiencing it at the scene when viewed in their VR headset.
Yahoo7 has also developed a wearable app for the Apple Watch, which came out last year, to allow sports fans get notified of the latest sport game results on their wrists. Users can view live scores and upcoming matches in AFL, tennis, cricket, A-League, and English Premier League.
the moment wearables are fairly focused on health and fitness, but I
imagine in the coming months that will be something a lot more
applicable to media,” said Russell.
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it comes to television, most people often want to watch their favourite shows
online at a time that’s convenient for them, said Matt Costain,
digital platforms and services at SBS, who managers the On Demand
online service. But watching TV online should be the same seamless
experience as watching it straight from a TV, he said.
started dipping our toes into the world of server side ad insertion.
the overall viewer experience by reducing buffering and so on when we
advertising, particularly in the middle
of the video content.”
paying video ads, the player pauses
video on a TV show to then
fetch and play
returns to the
a fairly disjointed experience, Costain
calls are all made on the server side, then those ads are stitched
into the video so it appears as a continuous piece of video. It
removes the need for the player to go off and seek it from another
are not used to buffering when watching normal broadcast TV so we try
to replicate that experience on the digital platforms.”
With the bulk of SBS viewers coming through social media channels, the broadcaster
also integrates its social media feeds with its broadcast TV shows.
Eurovision, one of SBS’s largest televised annual events, is an
example of this.
year and the year before there was a SBS Eurovision hashtag that
encouraged social media users and anyone watching the show to use. We
would accept photos and comments that we pulled from the various
social media channels, moderate them and push to display on the TV.
So the audience could see their online interactions on TV, which was
great. This was really well received,” Costain said.
Corp Australia is also leveraging social media to add to its own content.
Having acquired Storyful, which verifies if user generated content on
social media is correct and credible, News Corp was able to identify,
surface and re-distribute video footage of the November 2015 Paris
attacks that people had taken on scene and uploaded to their social
Storyful was able to validate whether the footage was real
or fake and manage the rights of the content in terms of attributing
the owner, or acquiring full rights so that it may be redistributed.
job is to monitor all of the social media content that is being
uploaded to all of the channels – they have hundreds of feeds that
come in. They monitor that, they look for the stories that are
trending,” said Bowen.
“What is unique is they verify the content for its
authenticity and credibility.”
At the very core of media
businesses are the content producers themselves – the journalists,
the video editors, the photographers, or anyone who creates content. This means they need to be equipped with the right tools to do their jobs effectively.
At Bauer, the editorial teams
each have their own visual dashboard, which is displayed on a wide
screen placed in their section of the office space. It displays real time
reporting of pageviews, trending articles, and so on, as well as how
they are performing against their set targets. It was built using the Periscope dashboarding tool,” Rumble
Rumble also holds a twice a week
analytics training session for editorial staff, so that they can not
only get more familiar on how to use Google Analytics and Chartbeat,
but also how to obtain more meaningful information from these tools so
they can better shape their content strategy, or see which topics or
types or content are working or not working with their audiences.
By putting the tools into
content producers hands and providing the basic training and support
to properly utilise them, it empowers them to take more initiative
and make better decisions in their everyday work environment, Rumble
course my team does deep dive analysis when we are asked to, but
we are very strong on giving
our editorial teams the tools they need to understand their audiences
better and make changes and understand the impact of those changes.
my team, we are a bunch of data geeks. And even though we love
content and media, we are definitely not the experts in that
space. We are all about upskilling our editorial teams to do this
stuff themselves because they are the people in the position to get
the insights and do something with them,” Rumble
Paul Russell, director of technology at Yahoo7, he understands the work of the editorial staff and the importance of meeting deadlines, especially
as breaking news online first can pull a lot of traffic to the site.
This means designing and building on a content management system that
makes the journalists’ task of uploading and publishing
content as simple as possible.
are currently at the early stages of building our next generation of
the editing interface in our content management system to optimise
the work that our journalists do, to gather information from various
sources as fast as they can so they can get breaking news stories up
as fast as possible.
is optimising that workflow and pulling in information they would
ordinarily have to go to multiple places to get. A lot of editorial
is also video-led, so being able to pull a video into a text article
in a really efficient way is a key part of the editorial process, so
we can optimise how they do that,” he said.
News Corp Australia’s innovation culture
Every quarter, News Corp holds a company wide 54-hour hackathon, where proof of concepts and prototypes are turned into real products and services that are pushed out into the market.
Having helped procure and set up an ideation platform to support the hackathon program that started in 2014, Alex Freeman, who is now CEO of Cloud.Co Asia, said the idea was to cultivate a culture of collaboration.
“Two developers progressively would realise they would need to make friends with somebody in user experience and marketing to have any chance of winning,” he said.
“It was initially just run in the digital business but then progressively scaled out into other parts of the business. The first one had 200 participants. It has extended into relationships with Fishburners and some of the startup incubators.
“We had people coming in from the startup incubators, from Twitter, Facebook and Google, to come and give talks on various things like how to use the Twitter API, etc. So it was really a good opportunity for people to effectively use it as a form of career development just by learning how to do these things.”
Freeman also helped build a voting system, which filtered down the projects that would be considered developing into live products and services.
“Every person gets 10 votes to use for each campaign, so if you see an idea you really like, you give all of your 10 votes to. These things run over a few weeks, so next week you might see another idea you like and take 7 votes back and allocate them to the other idea.”
Before starting the next hackathon, an idea has to have made some progress, or be seen in the company to have further developed and gone live. This is important to keeping the momentum up and motivates participants because they can see their ideas really will be followed through, Freeman said.
“We are trying to create a culture of innovation at News Corp, and we think that’s important because from that comes the conditions for creativity and collaboration between different groups. I think that all organisations need to be making time in employees remits for innovation and experimentation, as well as the big heavy lifting on transformation,” Bowen added.