Winnipeg Free Press: A Case of Combining Technology and Journalism

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The Outcome

The time and effort that Winnipeg Free Press invested to determine the best means of engaging an audience and convincing the audience to pay for content are already paying off, says Panson. Initially, he says, there was a 50% increase in page views. That, he says, was likely due to a "halo effect." This increase has since leveled off at about 25% to 30% daily, he says.

After reading three articles, users are asked to create an account. Panson says the newspaper initially had a target of creating 60,000 accounts; now, there are nearly 150,000 verified accounts. An email verification link is automatically generated for users to click on in order to complete the sign-up process. Of those 150,000 accounts, about 70,000 visit the site multiple times each week, says Panson. "That's been a pretty encouraging number for us."

Those who are choosing to engage based on the risk-free, per-piece model seem to be pleased with the content they're consuming. He says the daily refund rate is around 2%.

Publishers and content providers are not the only types of organizations that can benefit from this technology, Pedersen notes. Cxense also works with retailers to, through the same type of personalization, deliver customized ecommerce sites that show only those products that each user is most interested in.

Despite the power of technology, there is still-and likely always will be-a place for human intervention when determining how to best use the data to drive decisions. Winnipeg Free Press can now readily tell which articles most capture the eyes of readers, but that doesn't mean the paper will devolve into fluffy, lightweight content. Sometimes, information that the masses might find not-so-interesting is information that journalists will, nevertheless, persist in covering 

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