Learnings from the EngageReaders Launch Partner Meeting

Almost one year ago, EngageReaders officially launched, providing editorial teams with deep and actionable insights every day. Developed from research conducted in partnership with Mediahuis and KU Leuven, EngageReaders was selected as one of the winners of the Google Digital News Initiative.

Since then, a group of launch partners have met every six months to share their experiences with this new innovation in reader analytics and to discuss their insights. This September meeting saw members from Mediahuis, Media Groep Limburg, l’Avenir, Aachener Zeitung, and Dumont attend.

“Until now we’ve been making newspapers with gut feeling”

During the meeting, Mattijs Ooms, Regional Editor at Nieuwsblad, explained that EngageReaders allows for newspaper layout decisions to be made by more than just a gut feeling.

You never know if the gut feeling is correct. What we do with EngageReaders now is we make our newspaper and the next day when we are evaluating the newspaper we get to see if our gut feeling was right.

Vincent Etienne, on the editorial team at L’Avenir, agreed with this use of EngageReaders, explaining that they can use the data of how each article performs to decide which articles to promote more on their website or to decide the order of the sections, such as deciding if the regional sports section should come before or after the national sports section.

The representatives of the different publishers also discussed how EngageReaders has benefited their editions and newsrooms. Some newsrooms are using the data from EngageReaders to better understand their readers and what topics particularly interest them. Ulrich Kutsch, Chief Digital Officer at Aachener Zeitung, explained:

EngageReaders gives an overview of how different topics perform. And this is a really important point for us. We are using it in the editorial team in order to decide where to put our effort.

Heatmaps: visual representation of the data

During the launch meeting, the development of heatmaps was announced, which will allow newsrooms to visually see articles that are under or over-performing. With this, newsrooms will be able to better integrate EngageReaders into the everyday process of deciding the layout of the edition. Joos Philippens, Journalistic Innovation and Marketing Manager at Media Groep Limburg, stated that the visual representation of the data allows a wider group within the newsroom to more quickly understand the data:

Heatmaps will tell a story…that will make it possible for us to use EngageReaders on a daily basis for the whole team.

How EngageReaders works

Through predictive modelling, EngageReaders is able to identify over-performing and underperforming articles and highlight hidden gems. Hidden gems are the articles which are read by a limited number of readers, but are loved by those who did read it. Knowing the hidden gems can help improve placement of similar articles in the future. Understanding user behaviour at this level can help publishers to build a better newspaper for their readers in the future.

In addition, EngageReaders measures reader satisfaction for each edition, and allows the segmentation of readers according to their behaviour, further laying the foundation for a more engaging product offering. Finally, the awards system highlights when articles reach a special milestone, such as the most time spent on an article or the most openings, allowing the news room to know when they are at their best.

This article was written by Mary-Katharine Phillips, Media Innovation Analyst at Twipe from 2017 – 2021.


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