We humans thrive on information. The new, the interesting, the useful and the entertaining all have a seductive power to engage our curious brains and help us make the intelligent decisions that have enabled our species to succeed.
We now live in a world that has the technology to respond to that insatiable 24/7 appetite for information and publishers are its custodians, acting as gateways through which we access the novelty that we crave.
This brave new world is not without its challenges. The proliferation of news sources and lowered barriers to entry mean that the market for humanity’s attention is more competitive than ever. The business of publishing is experiencing disruption on an epic scale.
To survive and build a successful business in an information-rich, attention-poor environment, publishers need to adapt. Ironically, given the disruption that technological advances have caused, I firmly believe that it’s the analytical power of artificial intelligence combined with innovative real-time digital publishing platforms, that will help publishers adapt to survive and thrive.
Advanced personalisation through AI – the silver bullet for information overload
In today’s digital world it’s impossible to overestimate the importance of personalisation. In an online environment that sees billions of pieces of content added every hour information overload is a very real problem; it’s even affecting our mental health. The relentless flow of messages clamouring for our attention has shortened our concentration span and eroded brand loyalty as we struggle to analyse what is important and relevant to us.
And that’s the key, because in our quest for information what we really (really) want is to discover content that is applicable to our own lives, desires, interests and aspirations. We want a real-time, constantly updated stream of relevant, engaging enlightenment. Anything that doesn’t quickly demonstrate relevance is swiftly discarded as our butterfly mentality moves on to the next superficially attractive headline or image. To gain and sustain our attention, publishers need to get to know our interests, desires and aspirations – almost better than we know them ourselves – so they can deliver a highly personalised digital experience that makes our lives easier by giving us a shortcut to what we really want. This is where AI delivers.
Users are telling us what they really want with every action they take on the web, it just requires more processing power than the human brain possesses to make sense of it all. By analysing consumer interactions with websites and applications, AI uses vast quantities of data to build detailed user profiles that follow the data trail we create as we cherry pick our way through content.
By using intelligent publishing platforms publishers can apply this learning to anticipate customer needs and automatically deliver relevant content that has a high likelihood of interesting the user and therefore improving site dwell time. Cross-referencing this data with universal data sets such as trending topics, recently published articles and known customer preferences means publishers can offer a highly personalised and relevant digital experience, building that most precious customer commodity: loyalty.
Just as AI can predict the stories and content that will most engage the consumer, it can also be applied to advertising, allowing publishers to more effectively monetise more customer touchpoints and drive revenue. By anticipating customer desires and establishing where they are in the buying cycle, intelligent platforms serve relevant ads at the most opportune time, increasing the likelihood of response. This is less intrusive than conventional retargeted advertising and actually strengthens the customer relationship by understanding their purchasing priorities.
Tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapping? Extending the content lifecycle with AI
In our experience one of the biggest challenges for publishers is the relentless, always-on nature of the business. Users demand fresh, relevant content that updates in real-time, but delivering that requires resources that very few businesses possess. The answer is for publishers to think smarter about how they create and curate content, to maximise the value gained from every piece.
This is where intelligent digital publishing platforms, in combination with AI, come into their own. These platforms are cost-effective and integrate seamlessly with publishers’ existing systems to offer real-time content delivery and aggregation. By tagging stories and combining this with AI that analyses trending topics and users’ evolving interests, publishers can resurface previously created evergreen content each time it becomes relevant. This dramatically extends the life of the content and maximises return on investment, while providing a rich experience for users that keeps them returning again and again.
To keep sites fresh and serve a more diverse audience, publishers can also use AI to supplement their own output by identifying relevant content from the wider web and using a content aggregation system to serve this content to users, ramping up the personalisation.
The potential of artificial intelligence and intelligent digital publishing platforms is tremendous. It’s a very exciting, although challenging, time to be in the market as we strive to offer the ultimate in real-time, personalised experiences to customers. Integrating AI and digital publishing innovations has the potential to transform the industry yet again and bring about a digital renaissance for publishers in a world where personal is powerful.
Ashwin Saddul is managing director at Better than Paper
Re-published by kind permission of FIPP, the network for global media