There are so many apocalyptic predictions regarding the future of journalism and, unfortunately, it’s not that hard to see where they are coming from.
Too often, we see media in the service of the ruling governments or even as the very means for spreading propaganda. When someone who is supposed to guard the truth and accurately inform you, betrays your trust and decides to fabricate the facts – it’s obviously an issue.
There’s also the problem of poor reporting, where some issues get too much coverage and other important stories, unfortunately, stay out of the public eye; this prevents people from seeing the true, fact-based picture of the world.
But politicization and reporting limitations are not the only threat to newsrooms’ integrity. No, siree.
At Content Insights, we stand against clickbait, fake news, sensationalism and cheap-thrill content that diminishes both the organization that produces it and the reader who consumes it.
Of course, we also understand where this type of content comes from and why it has emerged.
Money doesn’t grow on trees (duh)
Even though we might seem like knights in shining armor protecting journalistic ideals that are often falsely seen as a thing of the past – we are no Don Quixotes.
We’re not crazy. (Well, maybe a little bit, but that’s not really job-related)
The million dollar question in the publishing world is:
How are you supposed to make money on stories and information, and compete with an outstanding amount of free, easily accessible content online?
To make the problem crystal clear, let’s deconstruct it. There are three main components to it:
- Promotion and awareness: how to rise above all the content noise and actually let people know your publication exists
- Quality: how to intrigue the readers, grab their attention, and keep them engaged
- Trust: how to show yourself to be trustworthy and find a way to earn money from reporting and storytelling
In this scenario, ads came to the rescue. And then one thing lead to another: clickbait was born from the commercial pressure newsrooms experienced with the shift to the online world. Editors found themselves on unfamiliar territory and they had to do everything they could to make it work.
Let’s take a closer look.
Burning a village by trying to save it
The way ads work is pretty straightforward: more pageviews and clicks means more money for the publisher. Clickbait is there to grab the reader’s attention and lure them into clicking.
The problem? Well, in the attempt to increase revenue rates and survive on the market, many publishers started distorting the quality of their content and pushing clickbait to front and centre in order to attract more clicks and drive ad impressions.
Simply put, they burned the village by trying to save it.
Pushing poor quality content with misleading yet striking headlines in order to stay in the business, defies the whole purpose of journalism or trustworthy publishing. Yes, they managed to finance their business but, in doing so, the initial business they were fighting for, ceased to exist. Talk about strategy backfiring.
We all hate clickbait and most of us have been victims of it at least once. It is annoying, it targets our primitive curiosity, and it makes us feel like utter fools.
This is why it can’t last. As content consumers, we eventually get tired of it. The truth is, people are hungry for quality. This fact has opened up new ways for publishers to preserve their integrity, do their jobs phenomenally, respect the readers, and earn money.
The evolution of one great idea (or, how was Content Insights born)
The idea for Content Insights was born in 2011 when our CEO Dejan Nikolić struggled to find a way to pay his writers in the line with their contributions. At the time, Dejan was the editor of the satirical news portal, Njuz.net. He knew there must be a way to identify the best performing authors and reward them accordingly.
Paying them by the amount of content they produced wasn’t really a good idea since that would mean favorizing quantity over quality. For instance, one author might have produced twenty low-quality articles and the other might produced three really, REALLY good ones that obviously resonated well with the audience.
The first version of Content Insights measured author performance and it wasn’t long before the focus shifted to measuring content performance.
Like a mad genius, Dejan created the first version of what we now call the Content Performance Indicator (CPI). Alas, it wasn’t good enough.
* sad trombone sound *
So, Dejan called up Ilija Šuša, a great data engineer and mathematician, and Ilija created something that actually worked. Shortly after, Dragutin Miletić joined the team and the three of them started their journey in a startup world. (Read more about how it all started here).
Content Insights has come a long way since then thanks to the talented team and Dejan’s close guidance of the product development. Throughout the years, our CPI algorithm has evolved. Recently, it reached its third, most precise version yet, and we are very proud of that.
Your content is your product, and we respect that
Maybe you’ve noticed that the discussions in the news and publishing industry are frequently focused on tactics for surviving financially. Making a notable profit remains a far-fetched scenario.
Truth be told, no one ever became a journalist driven with the intention of getting rich. There are other motives involved.
Working in media means you operate with content – it is your product. Fortunately, the awareness about this is rising (both among publishers and media consumers), which is why the subscription model is finally gaining momentum. The thirst for quality content we mentioned is reflected by the willingness of readers to pay for content and support trustworthy journalism.
Of course, it’s up to you to choose which content you will leave to be freely accessed and which you think is better to be placed behind the paywall – that’s another conversation for another time. Then, of course, there are the other content monetization models: memberships and native advertising as well. What do they all have in common?
It’s simple: our clients’ success has proven it’s possible to monetize content without sacrificing its quality, and that’s what keeps us inspired and motivated to keep perfecting our content intelligence tool.
Want proof? Check out the following stories, if you’re in the mood for it (of course you are):
- How Mittelbayerische Zeitung is transforming to digital and reader first with Content Insights
- How Badische Zeitung utilizes analytics to make the most of its online content
- How The Local looks at native advertising from a new angle with Content Insights
- The Unique Way De Persgroep Uses Content Insights
- How Content Insights Helps Süddeutsche Zeitung
Of course, different business models require new metrics.
Looking beyond just browser events
Pageviews as a metric is (thankfully) on the way to being consigned to the bins of history. It’s a simple metric that’s not capable of capturing real human behavior. It might as well be called Page-Loads since it doesn’t necessarily reflect the number of times a certain page was viewed, but a number of times a certain page was loaded in the browser (regardless of whether or not the page was opened for just a second or even read).
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the fallacy of trusting simple metrics.
At Content Insights, we developed complex, behavioral metrics that truly measure your content performance and how your audience responds to it. We know if there is a person behind that screen who reads attentively or just skims through the content, a real human being who feels engaged with your content or is just snooping around your website without any real intention.
We don’t just throw numbers at you like many content analytics tools on the market do. We understand publishers are people of words (pun intended), which is why we designed our content intelligence tool in a way that it communicates actionable information and provides real insights about your articles. Also, our clients can always count on our Data Science and Client Success team to help them get the most out of the data.
We are reviving journalists’ code by keeping publishers data-informed, not data-blinded. They see us as their strategic partner which happens to support mutual growth, and we are incredibly grateful for these valuable relationships.
If fighting for trustworthy journalism with trustworthy data as our weapon is crazy – well, you might as well call us that. It’s what you want too, right? So, at least we’re in great company.