Elections & epidemics: how Google is helping publishers in Asia with real-time data

The Drum 07 Apr 2020 03:38
Elections and epidemics: how Google is helping publishers in Asia with real-time data

Data science has been on the marketing and media wishlist for some time but many smaller teams and businesses can’t resource this expertise. For many publishers, the need to be more real-time and reactive is prescient but with business models being challenged constantly, having the tools and expertise is tougher.

Google stepped in last year to help these publishers, launching Realtime Content Insights (RCI) as a free tool for smaller publishers to use.

Explaining the tool, Amy Adams Harding, director of analytics and revenue optimization, news and publishing at Google, says the tool helps in decision-making for both content and distribution strategies for publishers.

“One of the reasons we developed Realtime Content Insights (RCI) is to help smaller news organizations, who may not have a data scientist on-site, still receive actionable insights informed by real-time data. We know this is so important to decision-making today and can help publishers deliver the right news to their audiences and build reader loyalty,” she says.

For Rappler, having access to data that is easy to understand and act on during a time that is forcing a lot of change on people and its business has been a useful tool, and allowed them to test new ideas.

Ressa says that analysing data about its most loyal readers, the brand lovers, has helped her shift from doing video interviews for stories to launching webinars instead that can sit behind its membership. The publisher now has plans to open this up to its civic engagement arm as a way of revitalising connection with its NGO and student communities. They have also launched a data-based tool to help people understand the impact of Coronavirus to local neighbourhoods and enlisted a former government minister and epidemiologist as an expert, initially targeting this content to loyal readers.

According to Google’s Adams Harding, major large events have been the driving force of this data and provided publishers with the ‘aha’ moment in how to use this data, rather than feeling overwhelmed by the amount of data.

For India’s Daniak Jagran, India’s top Hindi language newspaper and biggest paper by readership, this moment first came during the Indian general elections last year.

“How do we ensure that the agility and the authoritativeness are maintained? When you talk about the election, very giant things are happening very, very quickly. In order to run after that agility, you compromise an authoritativeness and you tend to make mistakes,” he explains.

“My content was being delivered to the right audience in a far more effective way. This is versus what used to happen earlier, where users were left to explore what is available on the website or you were expecting them to type and search certain things on Google. I think that was the fundamental change. The dashboard also gave us the ability to quickly see what the key trending things were happening throughout the day. The politicians were, for example, filing a Manifesto and we were able to map that with cities which our primary attraction is coming from. This gave the editorial teams insight around what is the audience wanting to know because this particular day was outside the purview of a planned content pipeline,” he explains.

“I think there is nothing like seeing an empirical form of growth attached to a theory. This really proves the point that data-driven or data-informed decisions can really do wonders,” he says.

“A few months ago, we unveiled a new feature in RCI dedicated to trendings events and cultural moments, with more real-data from Google Trends. This “Trending Topics” module creates a unified view of real-time data specific to a big news event and has helped publishers generate greater insights as news about critical events unfolds. We continue to update the tool based on feedback from our publishing partners, who are an important part of our development process. We look forward to sharing future updates in the months ahead,” she explains.

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RapplerGoogleAmy Adams HardingMaria RessaAdams Harding
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