July 22, 2021

Industry Insights: Leveraging AI to Drive Acquisition and Engagement

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer just a technobabble term used by mad geniuses in science fiction films. (Though, yes, it’s also fun in that context, too). More importantly, AI has emerged as a crucial, differentiating solution for businesses that want to streamline their processes and put their data to good use.

According to a study from Reuters Institute, publishers see AI as the biggest enabler for journalism going forward. Almost 70% of media leaders across countries put AI above other new technologies like 5G and upgraded devices. Many are already using automated learning technologies to deliver personalized, one-on-one experiences for their readers. 

And it’s only going to get more advanced from here.

To help publishers effectively use AI to drive engagement, acquisition, and revenue, we’re sharing key insights from leaders across the industry about how they’re navigating this brave AI-powered world.

Here’s what they have to say:

1. Mark Westlake, CEO, GearBrain

“Publishers today have to be smart and diversify. There are so many different ways for you to make money […] but if you do it right and think of the user experience, you’ll find those gems that won’t cost you a lot of money and will drive a lot of value for the company in terms of signing up users. I automate a lot of this because it’s not worth it for me to hire a whole staff to sell programmatic.”

2. Nicolaus Henke, senior partner, McKinsey Global Institute

“As we all know, COVID-19 has rapidly moved consumers and businesses to digital channels. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen organizations across sectors adopting and scaling AI and analytics much more rapidly than they previously thought possible […] Many companies are now turning to longer-term opportunities. With more data from digital channels available, improved recommender systems, for example, can enable better customer experience, more personalized content, and automated digital customer service. So it’s not surprising that the pandemic has spurred more investment in AI capabilities.”

3. Erin Weaver, senior director of audience development, Group Nine Media

“We do some automated email customer journeys that are really helpful. You have to build that structure and logic in the backend, but we think of it as a ‘set it and forget it’ [system], such as to do reengagement campaigns. Thrillist has one that automatically sends people birthday emails that say everywhere you can get free food for your birthday, and it’s one of our most successful emails that we send all year. And it just runs in the background and works for us without us having to do everything. The way we think of it is, ‘How can this make all of our lives easier so we’re freed up to focus on what’s urgent?’”

4. Gwen Vargo, director of reader revenue, American Press Institute

“When readers engage digitally, they leave fingerprints that news organizations can use to remind them of the content they value, and make informed suggestions about new areas they may enjoy. In an anniversary email, the New York Times summarizes what the user has been reading, in effect telling the personal story of their subscription so far […] While compiled with an algorithm, the anniversary notice aims for an enduring, personal connection, closing with the message: ‘Your Story is Just Beginning.’”

5. Jeff Kupietzky, CEO, Jeeng 

“There is a strong reason to do [automation] because it saves time. The human kind can’t match content to users in any realistic way, especially not if you want it to be relevant. So if you only have time to send four or five things a day and your recommendation engine is not great, then people are going to get disappointed. But if what you give them is good, then they might read 10 or 12 things a day. So their engagement will go up if the relevancy is there. So it is worth investing in from what we’ve seen.”

6. Colin Lovrinovic, managing director, Gould Finch

“The AI technologies available today not only enable companies to make better-informed decisions, but also magnify employees’ ability to deliver in fields ranging from content creation to customer-specific advertising.”

7. Susan Borst, head of mobile research, IAB

“There are elements of AI in things like dynamic creative [optimization], where you’re looking at big bundles of preferences and building that ad that’s really personalized […] The trade off with personalization is that you used to lose scale. AI makes it possible to do that kind of personal targeting on a huge campaign, so you’re no longer forced to choose between the quality of your targeted efforts and quantity of impressions. Because it can look at big chunks of data, AI lightens the load for the teams that manage these campaigns.”

8. Heather Muse, director of audience development, Reviewed

“We’re already accepting that open rates are just not going to be as meaningful as they were before with Apple no longer automatically tracking opens […] We’re doubling down on community, loyalty, and making our readers feel like we’re listening to them, responding to their feedback, and not just sending out newsletters to everyone who’s ever bought a product. We have to be more targeted.”

9. Elise Johnson, head of social media, Telegraph

“On every single platform, one fact stands out: when audiences are more engaged, subscriptions go up. […] Timing optimization takes a huge load out of the job, as you don’t need to fiddle about and keep track of what to post every half hour.”

10. Francesco Marconi, head of research and development, The Wall Street Journal

“Maybe a few years ago AI was this new shiny technology used by high tech companies, but now it’s actually becoming a necessity. I think a lot of the tools in journalism will soon be powered by artificial intelligence.”

Use AI to reach your KPIs

Jeeng’s exclusive algorithm was built to help publishers automate what works — and pinpoint opportunities to optimize what doesn’t. With just a line of code on your website, Jeeng can learn your subscriber preferences, create unique audience profiles, and curate personalized messaging for each user at just the right time.

So you’re always driving acquisition and engagement, even when you’re working on other aspects of your business.

Are you making the most of what AI has to offer? Contact us to find out.

Contact Jeeng