Use Case: How Content Insights Helps Süddeutsche Zeitung

For our first Use Case, we focus on Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of the most influential and appreciated European newspapers, famous for leading Panama papers reporting project along with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. They have been using the Content Insights application since the beginning of 2017. 

Their Audience Editor, Christopher Pramstaller, is our champion and was the first person from Süddeutsche Zeitung to use our editorial intelligence software back in 2017. Christopher, who used to be a journalist himself, is one of the editors who is most skilled in using our application. One and a half years since he first started using Content Insights, Christopher visited our company headquarters in Novi Sad, Serbia where he shared his experience of using the Content Insights application with our staff and presented to us the way he uses the Content Insights.
Our interlocutor said that Süddeutsche Zeitung shifted away from single metrics to behavioral metrics because they found that the latter granted their editors more insights and revealed more vital information about audience behavior. Adopting the Content Insights contributed to the transition in a very meaningful way, says Christopher.

Christopher’s voyage through the application

Christopher uses the Content Insights application on a daily basis. His first stop when he starts the application is the Website overview, a tab in the Insights menu which offers insights about the whole website. He skims the big numbers displayed at the top of the page that show general information about website performance, such as number of new articles, article reads, social actions, and how much attention time readers devoted to the website in the selected period of time. Rather than spending time looking at those analytics, he focuses on the graph which presents content performance based on key metrics.

He particularly appreciates the fact that insights for the top articles are easy to read, and so are the Referrers which appear when a point in graph is mouse-overed. He points out that just by looking at the numbers all the time, and not being able to put them into perspective can get editors easily confused. This graph lets users benchmark key metrics.

Getting further into his analysis, Christopher opens the Article insights tab, next in line after the Web overview in the Insights menu. He uses this feature to get detailed information about each article published in a selected period of time. First of all, our champion sorts the articles by the parameters that are most important for him: at the moment he does this by Article Reads. After that, he starts interpreting the data. Information acquired in these sections is, as he says, the most valuable to him, and he uses them for daily and weekly meetings with other Süddeutsche Zeitung editors. Christopher says that he sorts articles usually by different metrics to quickly see whether any outliers will appear.

While analyzing the articles, an outlier piece draws his attention. He finds detailed insights about the specific article’s performance by clicking on its title and opening it in the new tab. Christopher illustrates this in more detail and walks us through the situation. This particular article had low Engagement, which seemed strange because it had a lot of reads. This came as a surprise for him because he expected positive results.

 

Our Engagement CPI measures readers’ involvement with content. It’s a currency that unveils readers’ commitment to a piece of content considering not only their willingness to share and comment on the article, but also their commitment to reading. It also takes into account how attentive they are while reading the article.


Christopher says that they usually want to take a look at those outliers in order to see if there are any particular details that they can change to improve the situation. In this particular case by using our application he was able to understand what caused the low level of Engagement. According to Content Insights the problem was that a lot readers came to the article directly from distribution platforms. Those platforms incentivize readers to get back to the platform after reading the article and not to spend more time on the site they were visiting.
Christopher says that in past editors often struggled to understand why articles with many Article reads are still able to perform badly. Quite simply it’s because single metric systems don’t provide enough insight to tell if the article resonated with the audience. 

How the Topics section can help editors “push a bit more”

After analyzing the Articles section, Christopher moves to Topics page. He focuses on the graph in the middle of the page that shows which topics could benefit from more coverage. A graph displays all the topics used in selected period of time as bubbles and it shows them on two axis. This visualizes how different metrics that we use work together.

As Christopher says, this graph is helpful, because it provides editors with a specific view on their topics and gives editors the opportunity to see which topics resonate well with the audience and which don’t. He says that this gives them the chance to dig deeper into the topics, and possibly discover patterns while working with the insights. The graph is customizable and the user can tweak it it to get different metrics displayed such as Article reads, Social actions, CPI or Attention time.

Reborn articles are articles that have significant readership growth while they are in Long tail period. For consideration of Reborn articles, internal traffic is excluded.

When Christopher finishes with Topics, he opens the Long tail page. Long tail represents all traffic that certain content generated three days after publishing. Long tail has two special subcategories called Everlasting and Reborn content. Christopher feels that both Everlasting and Reborn insights deserve more attention from editors and journalists than they often receive. He says having these categories provides editors with opportunity to let valuable content resurface on specific platforms.

Everlasting articles are those that accumulate readers constantly over a long period of time. Only articles with higher number of article reads than website’s average for previous 30 days qualify as Everlasting articles.

After opening this section the first thing users encounter is the Long tail performance statistics part. It shows them what kind of website’s content makes the Long tail, and displays which articles, topics and authors had the most Long tail content. Aside from these three ranking categories, Christopher especially likes the fourth one, which shows how much every website’s Section contributed to Long tail content. Our interlocutor again points out the graph on this page, finding it very useful. The graph displays Long tail content performance based on key metrics, such as article reads, full reads and social actions. Data is available both as absolute numbers or percentage. This graph as well lets users benchmark key metrics for Long tail content. Users can compare a variety of metrics here such as Article reads, Social actions, Full reads, etc.

Referrers: vital insights for every newsroom

Christopher’s final point in analyzing the data from the Insights menu is the Referrers page. Those insights are vital for every newsroom, since they reveal where audience comes into contact with the publisher’s content. Christopher, who recognises the value of Referrers segment, feels that other editors don’t use it as much as they could, even though it helps them with very complex tasks of traffic management. While explaining how he uses the Referrers page, his attention is once again drawn by the graph set in the middle of the page.

This graph provides insights for all the referrer types and shows how many people came to the website from a single referrer in the selected period of time. Christopher particularly likes that when he mouse-overs the graph, it shows three articles with the most reads for a selected day. This graph also features a comparison option, and lets users benchmark traffic generated by the selected referrers for certain period of time. Christopher says that this option is important for him because it reveals how an article performed on different platforms. For example, it shows how many people read certain articles by searching the internet for them, or by stumbling upon them via their social media news feeds.

After checking the last feature in the Insights menu, our champion moves to the Reports section, which is used to generate and schedule the delivery of selected reports. Christopher says the Reports feature is very useful and describes it as a real timesaver. He says that the reports are not only well-designed and easy to use, but that they also have a carefully thought-out UX. Christopher is very pleased that we’ve introduced Referrers as a part of the reports that can be generated on demand. He also likes the fact that Reports are fully customizable, and that it’s possible to have them in your email inbox as frequently as you want, which makes them good for daily or weekly editorial meetings. Our Reports offer variety of metrics for all the main categories from the application’s Insights menu. Reports generator also lets users get the list and details for every category.

At the end of our discussion we talked about reports distribution inside the Süddeutsche Zeitung newsroom. They have already set up a specific Slack channel to send daily reports to their employees. Those reports show authors how their articles are performing. It also provides insights on how the best articles across their websites from the previous day have performed CPI-wise. We use the same way to communicate with Christopher and his colleagues. Our staff frequently talks with them via designated Slack channel. We use it to receive daily feedback from our clients.

Marko Radojević also contributed to this article.

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