Case Study: Sophi’s Paywall AI drives subscription growth for Seven West Media
The West Australian, a 190-year-old newspaper, is the flagship daily masthead of Seven West Media group. Across print and digital, The West reaches an audience of 4.3 million every month, the highest state reach of any metro masthead. It is a one-stop shop for all news in Western Australia. The West had some success in paywalling content, but the decisions were often their editors’ best guesses about which articles would drive subscriptions and which would generate page views. This meant opportunities were missed, leaving money on the table. “I could see that with all we were doing with digital transformation, we were pushing people to their limits – so many new tools, so many platforms to think about, so many hours of the day to cover,” said Bethany Chismark, Editorial Systems Manager. “I just wanted subscription conversion to be one less thing a producer or editor had to think about, to take a little bit of pressure off staff.” The West implemented Sophi’s content paywall in November, 2021. Sophi ran natural language processing on every article as it was published, predict whether it would generate more ad revenue or subscription revenue, and accordingly recommend to editors which articles should be locked or unlocked. By August, 2022, editors handed the reins over to Sophi for paywall decision-making, since it was evident that the AI was making powerful decisions that improved conversion without diluting their news brand. “Newsrooms have this myth, this idea that we know better than algorithms,” said Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Ceglie. “The truth is, Sophi is a beautiful tool and another lever that we can pull to get the best results for our audience.” With Sophi, The West saw a dramatic increase in the number of subscriber acquisitions. David Johns, online editor at The West, cited one example: “Of the near 3,900 stories Sophi suggested we lock, we locked around 2,500 of them, and we got 40 subs from those stories – in just 10 days. “Of the 1,800 stories Sophi suggested we unlock, we chose to keep almost 800 of them locked. Of those stories, only one of them sold a sub.” The team also noticed an uptick in subscriptions on wire content, stories that editors would never consider paywalling. “What Sophi did was to take the guesswork out of some of the stories that we locked or unlocked,” said Johns. This paved the way for fully algorithmic decision-making, said Chismark. “It’s not to say that staff didn’t get it right some of the time over Sophi. But it showed us that we could leave it up to AI, more than we had originally thought,” she said. “Once we flicked the switch to fully automated, we saw a continuation of the strong results that we had in the early stages of operation.” The newsroom had been concerned about job losses due to automation, said De Ceglie. “But the flip side of that is that it frees up capacity. And newsrooms have never been busier.” Subscriptions rose dramatically as Sophi found hidden pockets of value, allowing busy editors to focus on journalism, The West’s Bethany Chismark explains.
How Sophi helped The West Australian create culture change and free up editors’ time
Subscriptions rose dramatically as Sophi found hidden pockets of value, allowing busy editors to focus on journalism, The West’s Bethany Chismark explains.
Sophi Featured by IAB Canada
Sophi’s Sonali Verma was interviewed by IAB Canada about how Sophi’s game changing technology is curating digital content and getting the right message in front of the right person. Here’s a preview of the article: “IABC: Looking forward, how might Sophi evolve in the coming years? What kind of role will it play when it comes to the new forms of addressing audiences? Sonali Verma: Sophi’s mandate is to solve the worst problems in the publishing business including the two most popular: We have discovered that the decision-making engine...” Read the full interview here.
Sophi at Future of Media Technology Conference
Press Gazette recapped the publisher revenue strategies panel discussion Sophi’s Gabe Gonda participated in at The Future of Media Technology (FOMT) conference. Here’s a glimpse: “Gabe Gonda, VP of the Globe and Mail’s machine-learning start-up Sophi.io, said the Canadian newspaper’s revenue was split by 70/30 towards advertising ten years ago but has now flipped it to 65/35 user revenue. This was done, he said, by creating Sophi.io and allowing it to recognise – in a similar way to that division between Times and Sun readers – those who are “time poor and cash rich” with a “high propensity” to pay versus those who should be allowed to “ride for free” and help generate more advertising revenue. “The beauty of a dynamic paywall is it optimises for both segments,” he said.” Read the full article here.
Eidosmedia Partners with Sophi.io on Print Automation
Eidosmedia, a developer of digital publishing solutions for leading news-media groups worldwide, has partnered with Sophi.io, an AI-powered automation, optimization and prediction platform developed by The Globe and Mail, to bring seamless print laydown automation to Eidosmedia customers. The solution brings the entire print page layout process down from hours to just minutes, without the use of templates. Publishers can dramatically improve productivity and cut costs, all within the Méthode platform they currently use. “The complexity of print page layouts has until now defied the easy automation that speeds the publishing of online formats,” said Marco Cetola, Eidosmedia Sales and Partner Program Director. “For our customers, especially large regional groups and national titles, print editions continue to be a major source of revenue. There’s intense interest in ways to cut production times and costs in this important publishing channel.” “The fit between our print edition building routines and Sophi’s AI engine turned out to be very good,” said Marco. “We were quickly able to start training the pagination model on existing layouts, and we had the first results in a matter of days”. “The productivity boost obtained is exceptional,” said Marco, “especially for daily publications where the page-design operation is usually running against the clock.” In fact, a typical 32-page print edition can be paginated in minutes compared to several hours for a manual operation. Sophi-powered print automation is different than other print production solutions in that it is completely template-free. It uses smart AI to ensure that a publisher’s printed pages look and feel as though they were produced by experienced editors and page designers. Each page is designed from scratch following each individual brand’s design vocabulary. The final output is a print-ready PDF or InDesign file that’s ready in minutes. Among those who stand to benefit from the new technology are page designers themselves. Page designers have been under pressure for some time to increase their productivity as publishers try to cut costs. With fewer hands to lay out growing numbers of pages, the designer’s job has in many cases become a stressful race against time. The automation engine will take routine tasks off their hands so they can devote more time to the front pages, features and special layouts where their creativity can really add value. “Page automation is the greatest innovation in the publishing industry since the personal computer replaced typewriters,” said Marco. Gabe Gonda, VP at Sophi.io, commented: “Sophi is delighted to be entering a partnership with Eidosmedia to deliver our print automation technology through the Méthode platform. Eidosmedia is a first-class CMS vendor with deep knowledge of its clients’ evolving needs. This partnership will help deliver a unique and high-value solution to some of the best newspaper publishers in the world.” About Eidosmedia Eidosmedia (www.eidosmedia.com) is a global leader in content management and digital publishing. Eidosmedia solutions are used by news-media organizations throughout the world to create and deliver portfolios of news products ranging from advanced digital formats to traditional newspapers and magazines. About Sophi Inc. Sophi.io (https://www.sophi.io) was developed by The Globe and Mail to help content publishers make important strategic and tactical decisions. It is a suite of AI and ML-powered automation, optimization and prediction solutions that include Sophi Site Automation, Sophi for Paywalls and Sophi for First Party Data. Sophi also powers one-click automated laydown of template-free print publishing. Sophi is designed to improve the metrics that matter most to your business.
Sophi.io Welcomes Global News as Latest Customer
Global News, one of Canada’s leading news organizations, have chosen Sophi.io, an AI-powered automation, optimization and prediction platform developed by The Globe and Mail, to automate their website content curation. Following their strong value of innovation, they will be using Sophi Site Automation to autonomously place digital content across their website. Global News is extremely innovative in their approach to culture and have worked intensively with Sophi to drive culture change so much so that their editorial team sees the value of bringing AI into the newsroom and is looking forward to working with this new technology. Sophi Site Automation analyses all of their content, from video to text, and shuffles each piece of content to place the most valuable content in the most valuable places on their digital properties in order to ensure their content helps them achieve their business goals. Sonia Verma, Editor-in-Chief at Global News, said “Our innovative and data-driven editorial team is looking forward to working hand in hand with Sophi to bring automation into our newsroom and drive powerful decisions that will help us better serve our audiences.” Gabe Gonda, VP at Sophi.io, commented, “Global News, one of Canada’s preeminent news and information companies, is a phenomenal addition to our customer base. We are excited to help them marry their high level of talent with state-of-the-art ML technology that will help drive significant business results.” About Global News Global News offers Canadians from coast to coast a host of news and information—from breaking news in their community to deep, engaging content that puts complex world issues in perspective. Global News remains committed to serving audiences with fact-based, accurate, and comprehensive news coverage. Canadians can turn to Global News as a trusted source of information on television, radio and online including the flagship newscast Global National and daily local newscasts across the country. Global News is a Corus Entertainment network. About Sophi.io Sophi.io (https://www.sophi.io) was developed by The Globe and Mail to help content publishers make important strategic and tactical decisions. It is a suite of AI and ML-powered automation, optimization and prediction solutions that include Sophi Site Automation, Sophi for Paywalls and Sophi for First Party Data. Sophi also powers one-click automated laydown of template-free print publishing. Sophi is designed to improve the metrics that matter most to your business, such as subscriber retention and acquisition, engagement, recency, frequency and volume.