Volume is the stand-out star of content automation

By Cecilia Campbell

United Robots

Malmö, Sweden


For the publishers we work with, there is one aspect of automated content that really stands out. One key value they leverage is the volume of texts robots can produce. Time and again we see this. Media companies are discovering the real benefit of news automation when they start using it to provide coverage where there previously wasn’t any.

Robots have no real issues with scale: One article takes as long to write as 100. This means the robot can write about all divisions of all sports or fill in news deserts in the local reporting map with stories of company registrations and house sales. This is coverage that would be too resource-intensive to have reporters produce.

But with this automation, suddenly there’s reader engagement, revenue, and even ad impressions without any impact to newsroom resources.

In sports publishing, the volume of content that automation can generate allows media companies to set up a publishing timeline for every league, every match, and every reader — all generated automatically.
In sports publishing, the volume of content that automation can generate allows media companies to set up a publishing timeline for every league, every match, and every reader — all generated automatically.

Content automation drives a lot of different effects for the newsroom and the publishing business. But at the heart of the value of news automation is the volume of content it delivers.

From the volume flow multiple opportunities arise. These include the following:

Comprehensive coverage of topics like sports

With a sports robot, publishers can report on all matches in all leagues of all local sports, allowing them to reach many more local communities and individuals with their sports journalism. This drives both reach and engagement.

Swedish sports publisher EverySport Media Group (ESMG) publishes a number of sport-specific sites in Sweden and Finland, with additional countries to come. ESMG publishes automated match reports in football, ice hockey, and floorball. The robot texts mean the group can cover all leagues including junior leagues in a cost-effective way.

“Our strategy is to offer comprehensive coverage. We believe publishing thousands of articles with a dozen or so views each generates value in a couple of ways,” said CEO Hannes Andersson. “Firstly, it’s about reach, which is the foundation of our current business model. Local sports articles often go viral in small clusters, which means we reach big audiences on a hyper-local level. It’s also important for our brand to be seen to provide coverage of all leagues and divisions, including junior ones.”

Automation doesn’t just allow a publisher to distribute large numbers of match reports at the final whistle. With automated sports content, it’s possible to engage readers in different ways before, during, and after match day. So, a publisher could have a publishing timeline for every league, every match, every reader — all generated automatically (see illustration).

Meeting reader demand for more stories

Norwegian publisher Bergens Tidende (BT) produces content readers didn’t even know they needed, which generates new demand. Automation has enabled BT to create a home sales section on the BT Web site, populated solely with automated articles about property sales.

Without automation, this section would not have been viable; the newsroom resources required would outstrip the value of the content. As it is, the value produced — combined with neighbourhood-level geotargeting — is high enough to drive subscription sales.

According to BT project lead Jan Stian Vold, “The high quality of this real estate content, combined with the fact that it’s automatically generated, provides a net value for us and our readers.”

As of February 2021, 5% of all BT article conversions happened via the automated real estate content.

Populating new sites with stories and ad inventory

Robot content makes new ventures less risky. Whether you’re setting up a new local site or sports vertical, if you’re using robot texts for the bulk of the content, there’s always new content, which generates engagement and pageviews.

For top Swedish breaking news site Aftonbladet (Schibsted), robot texts are the content foundation for its 230 local destination sites around the country, which launched in 2019. Previously, it had been fairly Stockholm-centric. This local initiative strategy was intended to get closer to readers in other geographies as well as generate more local ad revenue.

All the destinations publish robot-written texts on traffic, weather, and local sports. The automated content means the local sites always feel updated.

Thanks to the volumes enabled by news automation, publishers have an opportunity to fill in gaps in coverage, reach more communities and individuals, and set up new sites — all with no significant impact to newsroom resources.

About Cecilia Campbell

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