Hey there,

Decision-makers at almost all media companies are currently busy with their plans and budgets for 2024. It will be interesting to see what they (and maybe you) decide to do with artificial intelligence.

Investment choices must go hand in hand with strategy and policy. Higher operating costs mean that you might only be able to spend money once, and all media companies naturally want to be just ahead of their competition. That's why, at smartocto, we mention user needs and artificial intelligence in the same breath, as it's crucial to be clear about the needs your AI tools will address.

  1. This is reflected in the stories our content team has been working on over the past few weeks. A client case with The Conversation highlights the importance of determining how your media brand differentiates itself from others. 
  2. We tell the story behind the (currently free) tool we launched, userneeds.smartocto.com
  3. And we announce a webinar where Dmitry Shishkin and Rutger Verhoeven will answer all your burning questions about user needs. It’s a unique opportunity because, in the new year, Dmitry will start a new position as CEO of Ringier Media International. Presumably, he'll be a bit harder to catch then...
  4. You might have missed the webinar from two weeks ago. Smartocto’s very own CEO, Erik van Heeswijk, talked about the exciting developments around smartocto.ai, a technology that can lead to huge technological advances. Make sure to check that one too.


"Smartocto helped us focus on the right metrics during our user needs research. We had the content experience; smartocto is the data expert and had all the tools we needed to visualise what was happening on our website."

The Conversation’s Khalil A. Cassimally shares his struggles and insights in a new client success story.

All successful media brands have their own set of user needs which enable them to better connect with their audience and enhance their sites' performance. The Conversation UK demonstrates how they realised that brand-specific user needs are essential.

"It's not about using the eight user needs we've devised, although I think the brand-specific ones are always linked to those," says Dmitry Shishkin in the client case. "Rather it’s about using that framework to strategically guide the journalistic process and be consistent in adhering to it."

The Conversation client case


Our free AI tool

In your own company, if you choose to let user needs guide your content strategy, you’ll never stop learning.

Artificial intelligence can help with a crucial part of the approach, namely recognising user needs. Smartocto launched userneeds.smartocto.com last month. Now, we're sharing how the tool works and what you can learn from it.

In this blog, we share three use cases to explain a few things about the execution - and why we’re still learning too:

  • The AI tool hasn't been instructed to recognise formats. Accordingly, it will (and can) look purely at the text content to draw its conclusions.
  • The system lacks human emotions. When facts should provoke emotions, it could be that this AI tool will miss the point.
  • If you don't make a clear choice about which user need you want to satisfy, the system may sometimes do strange things.
user needs recogniser blog


Ask Me Anything

Behind the scenes, ten media titles in Europe have been busy for two months with User Needs Labs. Smartocto and Dmitry Shishkin are guiding them in turning theory into practice.

Success hinges on a clear understanding of what's lacking in the content. The focus is on identifying issues: when you're doing too much of this and not enough of that. With 'growth hacks', the editorial teams in the labs' project experiment to see the effects of certain actions.

  • Key trends to be discussed in the webinar include:
  • Overproduction of 'Update Me' articles are everywhere
  • Different sections or verticals require specific user needs
  • On average, only 2/3 of every article is being read
  • Actionable content appears to hold great promise for all participants
  • Deep dives on the story level indicate that the framing and commissioning of stories can be more precise

We’ve factored in ample time to enable Dmitry Shishkin and Rutger Verhoeven to answer questions. So, sign up quickly and ask your question via the link below.

Ask me anything


  • OpenAI recently announced multiple new features for ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence tools during its recent developer conference. Check out 5 key updates in GPT-4 Turbo, OpenAI’s newest model on Wired.
  • An interesting development at The Verge: while visitor numbers are declining, as elsewhere in the industry, loyal visits have significantly increased thanks to an innovative redesign, according to Adweek. This could inspire other media not to fixate solely on traffic from social media or Google.
  • Niemanlab talked to the Financial Times, La Nación, The New York Times, Vox, Chilango, the Times of India, and others about their early experiments sharing news on the world's favourite messaging app: WhatsApp.
  • A study examined the evolving role of guidelines in newsrooms, an ongoing effort to balance innovation and ethics. Check out what The Fix writes about it.

With that, we've reached the end of this newsletter. Remember to sign up for the Ask Me Anything to end the year off right. And if you find this newsletter useful, please recommend it to a colleague or friend who needs to stay informed.

See you in two weeks!

Team smartocto