Analytics set to become more important in post-cookie era, says Smartocto

Smartocto is an editorial analytics tool that helps newsrooms make educated decisions on content output. The company is an international, journalism-orientated organisation that services newsrooms all over the world, and as the industry hurtles further towards the ‘Cookiepocalypse’, we sat down with one of its co-Founders to find out how the solution helps media owners optimise their content…

“We’re on our way to becoming the biggest European datasystem for the publishing and content industry,” says Rutger Verhoeven, CMO and co-Founder for Smartocto. “The company is where it is today thanks to a merger between two leading businesses with their own field of expertise, and we’ve already been serving clients for many years.”

“The reason is simple: our experience in the industry has taught us that, even though content intelligence is omnipresent in today’s newsroom, journalists and storytellers still struggle to make optimal use of their data tools. Newsrooms often lack the skillset or time to interpret the data and translate it into action.” 

“Our smart notifications tell editors exactly which stories could benefit from what editorial action. And because these notifications are sent directly to journalists’ and editors’ workspaces, we really help them go from data to action.”

The system’s core functionality is based on a pragmatic approach to modern digital publishing, leveraging automation to alert journalists and editors to key points in the publishing cycle where they can maximise pick-up.

“If a journalist publishes a story on their site and it starts picking up a lot of traffic, Smartoco will record that,” says Verhoeven. “We’ll then send them a direct notification to say ok this one is popular, and has not yet been published on social media, you should push it. Conversely, if we see a story generating a lot engagement across the social timelines, then we know that people might be interested in further information on the subject, and in that instance we might send an alert recommending a follow-up piece.” 

“The platform can now predict what impact a certain action may have, and whether it’s on conversion, reach, or engagement.”

Smartocto’s notifications are based on a combination of historical and real-time analysis, which makes it possible to make future predictions. Recently, the platforms took its predictive analysis to the next level by adding machine learning and AI assistance.

“Our AI evolution means that the platform can now predict what impact a certain action may have, and whether it’s on conversion, reach, or engagement. It even goes so far as to calculate the ROI of individual actions, and over time – through machine learning – helps users to visualise how effective and efficient their newsroom is.” 

“We call the new developments that we have built on top of our existing notifications system the smartify level. If a journalist is looking to post some content on Facebook for example, Smartocto will show them the top three articles that qualify to be posted on that platform at that moment, and then calculates the effect of you actually doing it. These predictions are based on historical data and calculated with machine learning technology.”

“The system essentially functions as an extra (albeit invisible) colleague that tells you exactly what editorial action you need to take to achieve your editorial goals. So, you tell it what editorial action you’d like to perform, and we’ll tell you what you have to do to maximise efficiency, efficacy and engagement.”

“Our smart notifications keep suggesting (on story-level) which stories could benefit from an editorial action (like a follow-up, a social post, a new headline, ect.), so the system is constantly working on suggestions to improve your stories.” 

In order to measure the success of specific stories, the company has come up with its own compound metric, called the Content Performance Indicator. This gives all stories an individual score (between 0 – 999), based on exposure, engagement and loyalty and measured against other content on your website.

Verhoeven says that new technologies like this will be essential in helping publishers to maximise their reach and engagement levels in the post-cookie era. 

“As we move from cookies to first-party data, there are a few issues in play. Data collection is the obvious first one. GDPR – and the onus on user consent – has forced companies to scrutinise their own practices, and non-European businesses have not been as diligent about implementing the changes required as European ones have.” 

“But if we go further and think about what data collection is designed to do – to help understand audiences and audience behaviour more comprehensively – it’s vital that data collection is paired with an interface that enables newsrooms to use that information effectively.”

“Analytics aren’t going anywhere, and in fact they are only going to become more important as the competition for attention in the digital sphere continues. So, it’s vital that publishers have access to such tools, and feel confident in using them.” 


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