Last week in Amsterdam, the Google Digital News Initiative announced the winners of its early-2017 funding round. Overall, almost 22 million euro were awarded to 107 projects from 27 different European countries.
Fields such as fact-checking, AI, investigative reporting and augmented reality were the stars of the show, but the big focus was collaboration: 49% of selected projets were the result of cross-entity and cross-border initiatives. Twipe led the charge in 2016, by securing a DNI funding in collaboration with Belgium publisher Mediahuis, through which we create our editorial analytics tool EngageReaders.
We went through all 107 selected projects, and picked out 7 that we believe deserve a special mention, be it for their originality, or how they represent the current and coming trends in publishing.
#1: AP Verify – Associated Press Television News – UK
User-generated content (UGC) has become crucial for newsmakers, but going through it and assessing its relevance and reliability is labor-intensive work. AP Verify will use video recognition and machine-learning to automate this process, thus bringing its audience better content, faster.
#2: Wave – Mediahuis – Belgium
We’ve said it already: there are moments of the day when people could consume news, but do not because they are not approached with the right content. Mediahuis aims to fill a part of that gap: it will use several content sources to create audio news stories, which will be send to connected cars, smart watches or home assistants, at the time of the day when each user is most available.
#3: Dynamic Paywall – Luxemburger Wort – Luxemburg
We all have our tipping points, and Luxemburger Wort wants to identify yours. By using machine-learning algorithms, it will create varying paywall thresholds for different users, in order to maximise its conversion of freemium readers into full-fledged paid subscribers.
#4: Le Figaro Voice – Le Figaro – France
The french newspaper aims at using DNI funding to develop both text-to-speech and speech-to-text techniques. The former will be used to generate audio-briefs for home assistants (a trending topic), while the latter will allow for integration of subtitles into live video feeds
#5: Creative Content Crowdfunding – Magyar Jeti Zrt. – Hungary
A kind of kickstarter for journalistic coverage, this platform will allow 444.hu, a Hungarian online news site, to have its readers contribute to special editorial projects they “deem worthy of their money”. It will be a new outside-of-the-box income stream for the currently ad-funded website, which will also bring readers into the editorial decision-making process
#6: AMPoool – Poool – France
AMP, google’s fast-loading articles, have proven widely popular, if difficult to monetise. AMPoool wants to fix this by creating an affordable AMP-compatible paywall sold through a SaaS model. Like us, they believe the digital subscription model is the future. Using Google’s fast-loading platform to create more monetisation opportunities is definitely a step in this direction.
#7: Personalised subscription models – Gudbrandsdølen Dagningen AS – Norway
This Norwegian publisher starts with a simple truth: subscriptions are binary – you either go for the existing offer, or do not. Change could come soon though: this project aims at enabling the automatic creation of tailored subscription offerings based on age, interests, life phase and other parameters. Machine-learning would keep the model up to date, and ensure users are always targeted with an offer that fits their needs.
With this third round of funding the total amount of money allocated by the DNI fund reached 73 million euro, out of the initial 150 million enveloppe. This means another 77 million euro remain to be attributed over the next couple of years. What type of project will these fund? Only time will tell, but we can expect monetisation, reader engagement, mobile optimisation, fact-checking and news automation to remain key topics.