NZZ Article Score
2021 Finalist

NZZ Article Score

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Zurich, Switzerland

Category Data and Research

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

Writing content is, albeit being the most laborious phase, only one part of a newspaper’s modern production pipeline. A significant portion of an article’s success lies in its online distribution approach. Our online editors face the daily challenge of monitoring and optimally distributing over 100 articles across different channels such as the frontpage, push notifications, editorial emails and social-media posts.

The objective of this project was to provide a solution for our editors to monitor and optimize, in real-time, the online distribution of recently published articles. Article performance is measured across 8 different metrics describing attractivity, engagement and conversion key indicators*. The delivery of every article is quantified across each metric and summed in a final article score that uniquely reflects our company’s business goal -  namely attracting and retaining paying subscribers in the Swiss and German markets.

The project aimed to democratise access to unique data, to which editors would otherwise not be exposed to. We set the goal of providing clear and novel, and most importantly, actionable information relevant to the decisions our online editors are faced with hourly. These editors work in the newsroom under strict time constraints, multitasking between different responsibilities and tools, all the while curating the frontpage and all other distribution channels. Our tool was envisioned to reduce complexity and help them monitor the online performance in real-time and in an effective way. Additionally, it should provide them with data-informed, easy to implement tips so that each article can reach its maximum potential and thus make the best possible contribution to business growth.

*Attractivity is measured as per views from anonymous, registered, and subscribed users. Engagement is quantified in terms of dwell time, scroll depth and recirculation. Finally, the conversion dimension is determined by how the article contributes to online registrations and subscriptions.

Results for this campaign

To meet the objectives outlined above, we have developed a web-based application in a highly-paced, cross-functional team with members from the editorial, data, and tech teams. The tool is available in two formats: (1) a big screen format for display in the newsroom [see attached picture], and (2) a desktop format for individual use [see attached screen capture].

The landing page of the tool consists of a dashboard, which presents a list of all recently published articles ranked as per their current aggregated article score. This is shown together with information on how they performed across the attractivity, engagement and conversion dimensions and where they are currently promoted. Discrepancies that need attention (e.g. articles with a high number of clicks but low engagement) are automatically detected and visually highlighted. Furthermore, the most popular articles across user groups of particular focus (such as readers in targeted markets, women, students, etc.) are awarded badges. The dashboard aims at providing a first assessment of the current situation and aids the editors in identifying articles that require immediate intervention.

For further investigation and analysis we have developed a detailed view for each article. This view provides a timeline with information on all historical channel promotions juxtaposed with the article’s historical performance. We feel this is very unique to our tool, offering a wealth of information to learn from on the performance effect of each type of channel promotion. Finally, the detailed view provides information and tips on how each article can be adjusted for optimal SEO performance (e.g. by setting the dedicated SEO title or linking to other articles) and mobile performance (e.g. by shortening lengthy titles and paragraphs).

The tool has been in use since April 2020 in the newsroom and has received positive feedback from the editorial team [see attached quotes from our chief editor and online editor using the tool]. We continue to iteratively gather requirements, design, and further develop it.


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