The Globe and Mail is Canada’s foremost news media company, leading the national conversation and effecting policy change through brave, independent journalism since 1844. The Globe’s award-winning coverage of business, politics and national affairs reaches six million readers every week in print and online. The Globe believes the future of journalism lies in its ability to bring readers the stories they both want and need to know. That’s why the company invested in innovation and data science, hiring data scientists from leaders in the tech industry to develop Sophi – an artificial intelligence platform for Natural Language Processing, prediction and optimization – and used it to automate the curation of content on its websites and digital properties.
As the media industry grappled with shrinking resources over the past decade, The Globe and Mail was looking for ways to continue to fund and produce groundbreaking journalism. This meant ensuring reporters and editors had as much time as possible to explore and shape the content that would build a better Canada. It also meant finding a sustainable source of subscription revenue while preserving as much advertising revenue as possible.
The Globe and Mail put its trust in an artificial intelligence (AI) system called Sophi to autonomously run its digital properties, including the homepage and key landing pages. This let the newsroom focus on producing the finest journalism possible and let Sophi take care of placing and promoting it.
Sophi’s AI engine was trained by The Globe’s editors to understand what is relevant to each page and which articles are most appropriate. Every 10 minutes, it finds valuable stories that merit greater promotion and updates every page of the website accordingly. Sophi understands how much each story contributes to subscriber retention, subscriber acquisition, registration potential and advertising dollars – looking beyond just pageviews, thus avoiding undesirable clickbait. Now, more than 99% of the content on The Globe’s digital pages is placed by Sophi.
‘’The newsroom of the future is one where journalists can focus on finding and telling great stories – something that machines can’t do. This is why we asked our data scientists to automate the webpages, slowly and carefully testing the results before gradually implementing it across practically the entire site. And I’m very happy with the results.‘’
The Globe and Mail saw a dramatic improvement in the business metrics that matter:
Click-through rates were up 17% from the homepage.
The subscriber acquisition rate increased by more than 10%.
Not a single reader has complained or asked if a computer is curating the website.
Encouraged by this success, The Globe developed automated print laydown within the Sophi suite of tools. In a few seconds, Sophi does what two people used to take two hours to do, freeing up valuable newsroom talent. Sophi also determines what to promote on The Globe’s social media pages and in its newsletters.