Overview of this campaign
Canada’s national newspaper has a secret: The Globe and Mail’s digital properties are powered by an artificial intelligence engine called Sophi that autonomously curates 95 per cent of our content. The result has been a dramatic improvement in our business.
Sophi understands how much a story contributes to subscriber retention, subscriber acquisition, registration potential and advertising dollars – looking beyond just page views, thus avoiding simply viral content.
Every 10 minutes, Sophi examines all our content; at every place each story is being promoted; and at all the ways our audience values that content. It finds valuable stories that merit greater promotion and updates every page of our website accordingly.
It is worth noting that in more than a year, no reader has complained or asked if a computer was running the site.
Sophi works because it is an AI engine that has been trained by our editors to understand what is relevant to each page (eg, the homepage vs the business section page) as well as which articles are not appropriate (see Slack integration screengrab).
Our editors have also set the parameters for the mix of articles on each webpage (such as how old an article can be, which sections to draw how many articles from, etc.).
The newsroom still works with Sophi as editors still curate the top three story packages on our home page and business page.
Our Editor in Chief, David Walmsley, believes the newsroom of the future is one where journalists can focus on finding and telling great stories – something that the machine can’t do. This is why he asked our data scientists to automate the webpages, slowly and carefully testing the results before gradually implementing it across practically the entire site.
Results for this campaign
Business metrics that matter are up dramatically. In A/B testing against our traditional curation, click-through rates off our home page were up more than 17%; this helped lift our subscriber acquisition rate by more than 10%. We are also generating more advertising revenue due to increased inventory availability.
It is worth noting that in more than a year, no reader has complained or asked if a computer was behind the site.
Encouraged by this success, we are also turning print laydown over to Sophi, where it does in a few seconds what two people used to take two hours to do, freeing up valuable newsroom talent to focus on other tasks. It will soon also determine what to promote on our social media pages and in our newsletters.