London plays host to the World Congress of News Media from Wednesday to Friday next week. Smartocto will be there, and you can find us in our booth, ready to discuss all things news, analytics, strategy, AI and user needs.

The programme of speakers is looking particularly good, so here are four key themes that will be covered - and the sessions in which you can learn more about them.

Artificial Intelligence as the main theme again? Yes!

You can't avoid it, and rightly so. Few digital transformation experts doubt that AI has had (and is having) a significant impact on the media sector.

There’s a lot to be learned from our peers about how to gauge the speed or nature of the investment we should be making in AI and the tools that help in this endeavour. INMA CEO Earl J. Wilkinson covers much of the field, highlighting the priorities, challenges, and opportunities.

For a deeper dive a little later in the day, Neil Jacobstein will address the audience at INMA. He is the chair of artificial intelligence and robotics at Singularity University in the United States and will offer insights into the potential technological futures that may arise. If you are more pragmatic, consider attending David Caswell's session the following day. He links actionable insights from real AI applications to strategies for managing their effects on the media ecosystem.


-> Wednesday 24 April

9.30-10.30am, Earl J. Wilkinson (INMA) How news media priorities are changing in the age of generative AI

1.45-2.30pm, Neil Jacobstein (SINGULARITY UNIVERSITY) Navigating the exponential age and AI’s transformation of business and society

-> Thursday 25 April

8.45-9.30am David Caswell (STORYFLOW) Redesigning news media with generative AI: Real-world applications, examples, and strategies


Interested in discussing this further? Our CEO, Erik van Heeswijk, will be in and around the smartocto booth for the duration of the conference. Alternatively, book a demo to learn more about We provide live or remote demos if you're pressed for time.

In previous years, analytics revolved mainly around human behaviour, measured in clicks, likes, and views. Now with generative AI, reporting systems know a lot more about what the content is actually about. Style, sentiment, readability, topic and format, a real match between audience and story qualities can be understood on a deeper level. This will no doubt lead to more specific personalisation, or help inform more advanced content strategies.

Erik - new

Erik van Heeswijk CEO @ smartocto

User needs are not explicitly mentioned, but are always there

Greg Piechota is a man who always has interesting things to share (we’ve mentioned him before in our newsletter). He stands firm by his assertion that significant growth in subscriptions is possible if you consider audience engagement as a key starting point. When publishers align with what readers are looking for (hello user needs!) and focus on these critical points, they can build a strong force that keeps subscription numbers growing.

It would probably also be interesting to listen to the panel featuring Jodie Jackson, Kasst Cho, and Ben Haywood on news avoidance. For smartocto, this topic has a direct link to user needs: people turn away from the news because it is too one-dimensional, focused solely on information transfer, while the audience has different behaviours and expectations. What steps can editorial teams take?


-> Thursday 25 April

1.15-1.45pm Greg Piechota (INMA) Subscriptions unleashed: The next growth path for news media

1.45-2.45pm Jodie Jackson (NEWS LITERACY LAB), Kasst Cho (ALMOST), Ben Haywood (STUFF) Navigating news avoidance and shifting habits while nurturing hope and diversity


Our CMO, Rutger Verhoeven, certainly has an answer to that last question. He’ll be based at the smartocto booth and you can flag him down if you spot him on-site, but if you want to be certain to catch him, book an appointment with him here.

There’s no doubt that adopting a user-needs-first content strategy can help newsrooms boost engagement. We also know that smart notifications can have a transformative effect on the culture and workflow of editorial teams. The combination of the two should create a powerful solution to enable newsrooms to connect with their audiences better - and for longer.

Portrait of Rutger Verhoeven

Rutger Verhoeven CMO @ smartocto

Integration, culture change, change management

Fundamentally, all developments in the world of news and news production hinge on a single goal: to grow and sustain a healthy business in a tricky market. We know (because we’ve built one) that finding the right tool can be transformative in this regard, but we are also aware that significant focus must also be given to integrate those tools and systems into an already fatigued workspace.

We’re particularly looking forward to the following talks on this subject: perspectives from the corner office about various aspects of digital transformation and another on how to equip staff with the necessary tools to survive and thrive.


-> Wednesday 24 April

11.30 - 12.30pm, Panel (Mirja Cartia d’Asero IL SOLE 24 ORE, Michael Boggs NZME, David Rhodes SKY NEWS GROUP, Katie Vanneck-Smith HEARST UK) - Navigating economic ups and downs: What CEOs say about thriving in dynamic times

-> Thursday 25 April

11.15am - 12 noon - Editors’ panel (Tony Gallagher THE TIMES UK, Sophie Huet AFP, Isabel Russ RUSSMEDIA, Alex Wood Morton FORTUNE) How to forge a high-performance newsroom for the digital age


The success stories we hear about are successful primarily because those newsrooms have a steadfast commitment to a strategy - and there is a unified and consistent purpose from everyone from the corner office to the junior reporters. From our perspective as providers of an actionable insights tool, we’ve seen this to be true also - and it’s why we make so much of onboarding and education (in our Academy) as clients start using smartocto’s various capabilities.

It’s like the expression suggests: everyone has to be on board before the ship can sail. That’s no mean feat.

Our success manager, Martijn De Bie, will be on hand for the duration of the conference to answer any and all of your questions about how to effectively integrate tools, processes and systems into your newsroom - and how to marry strategy with tools and features. He’ll also happily give demos if you’d like a tour of our features and tool.

We help editorial teams increase their impact, and with our tools, we set them in motion.

Smartocto team Martijn new 2

Martijn de Bie success and support manager @ smartocto

Trends, insights and inspiration

Of course, much of the joy of conferences like these is to come and hear what our colleagues and peers have to say about what’s happening and what’s working - and what’s likely to happen and workin the coming months and years.

The New York Times have long been the early adopters of paradigm-shifting ideas, so it will be interesting to hear what they have been doing in the face of the increased polarisation and engagement decline as seen in audiences. Scandinavia too has long been a benchmark for innovation, and there’s much to be gleaned from experiences at Nordic brands like Bonnier and Schibsted.


-> Wednesday 24 April

10- 10.45am - Joseph Kahn (NEW YORK TIMES) Journalism under siege: Insights from The New York Times

4.30-5.15pm - Anders Eriksson (BONNIER) & Siv Juvik Tveitnes (SCHIBSTED) A strategic road map for cultivating a sustainable media business


Our content editor, Em Kuntze, will be in attendance on the Wednesday of the conference and can be found in and around the smartocto booth where she’ll be happy to talk about the biggest challenges and opportunities of the media industry.

The fourth industrial revolution has had (and is having) a very real, very direct impact on how our businesses are run. The tools at our disposal mean that the opportunity to make substantive change is there within our grasp, right now. It’s essential - for ourselves, for our audiences, and for our businesses - that newsrooms and those working in them maintain a learning mindset and remain open to those possibilities of change.

Em Kuntze

Em Kuntze editor @ smartocto