Hello there,

At smartocto, we're not alone in exploring the still relatively new possibilities of artificial intelligence, yet it's incredibly exciting that our first clients have now embarked on their journey with smartocto.ai.

What will editorial work look like in the near future if you embrace smartocto.ai? The hypothetical is no longer just theoretical: it’s now up and running, and every client (or prospective client) can utilise the tool in this manner. In this newsletter, we're also sharing our 8 ethical guidelines around AI, in the hope that they will instil confidence or even inspire others to define their own moral compass in this field.

So, imagine this: you’re an editor, chief editor, producer, audience engagement manager, data analyst or indeed have any other role in content creation… 

  1. You receive a Slack-notification that an article is being well-read (high engagement), but relatively few visitors are clicking on it. The system suggests conducting an A/B test. You tell it that your North Star is focused towards getting more reach, after which smartocto.ai displays three alternative headlines that could help achieve this goal. You use these headlines as inspiration for a headline test. You’ll conduct the headline test in the same tool.
  2. The head of the economics section sees a big drop in the number of pageviews in his domain this month. He asks his colleagues for assistance. Thanks to smartocto.ai, all articles are classified, not just by subject and format, but also by user need. It turns out that in this particular month, 70% of the articles of the economic section are classified as fleeting 'Update me' articles, while he knows that visitors mainly come to that section looking for in-depth interviews with various perspectives. The smart tip he receives will probably say something like “Consider writing more context-driven content in order to engage your audience more in this section” so in order to action this, he’ll instruct the team to schedule interviews with interesting economists to reverse this trend.
  3. An article has been the most-read piece all day, but smartocto sends a notification: 30% of the readers drop off after the 5th paragraph. You’ll take a look at that paragraph and suspect that it uses too many difficult words. You want to optimise for engagement, so use that as your 'North Star'. Smartocto displays an alternative paragraph, with the same content but which is easier to read. You adopt (some of) the suggestions. Now, read depth and engagement will go up.
  4. You want to publish a major investigative story that has been in the works for a month. But when is the best time to release it? Smartocto.ai uses historical data to make a prediction. Normally, the editorial team publishes the piece in the morning, but perhaps the data shows that the optimum audience is more likely to want to get it late afternoon. Armed with this knowledge, you’re able to schedule it so that it hits at the right moment.
  5. Your newsroom goes all in with smartocto’s virtual assistant, which is not only able to give practical tips, but also provides the most relevant strategical advice at every moment of the day, tailored differently for each role of your. This image says it all:
virtual assistant

BLOG: Ethics framework

What are the ethical issues of AI in journalism? Many publishers are seeking guidance in response to this question.

Rapid transformation - especially if there are risks involved - requires guidance and a vision that goes beyond daily tasks. It needs a moral system that ensures that the complicated tech remains a force for good. Employees want that, clients and audiences demand it, and the future needs it.

Smartocto never walks away from responsibilities like these and has therefore formulated an eight point Ethics Framework that helps guide decisions surrounding AI.

PROJECT: User Needs Labs 2

The interest in the User Needs Model 2.0 is growing so rapidly that it's almost overwhelming for smartocto. With our partner Dmitry Shishkin becoming the CEO of the European publishing house Ringier, smartocto has sought assistance to meet the increasing demand for consultancy services.

We are thrilled and delighted to announce that FT Strategies and smartocto have joined forces in the continuation of User Needs Labs. Through our online training program, media titles are supported over a five-month period, learning what their audience expects from them and how they can accordingly enhance their content strategy.

The primary goal of User Needs Labs is to foster mutual learning and collaboration amongst all participants. FT Strategies provides strategic guidance, while we offer access to our editorial analytics system, including smartocto.ai. You can now register.


  • Once again, the Reuters Institute is shining a spotlight on news avoidance. The journalistic institute discusses a book on the subject 
    and offers five tips for media outlets looking to address this issue.
  • Following on from this, how specifically can you ensure that you reach young audiences with journalism? The BBC is making an attempt with a new podcast, as reported by Niemanlab. “It’s quite lazy to say that young people don’t care about news.”
  • To also demonstrate that money can still be made from quality journalism, we're pleased to share this article from Niemanlab about The Guardian. The British newspaper has managed to raise a record amount from readers in the United States.
  • Finally, the previous newsletter touched on the numerous elections coming up in 2024. Jay Rosen, a journalism professor, makes his voice heard in this blog: he believes that media should be more explicit pro democratic.
  • Thomas Baekdal is deeply frustrated by the way American media are covering Trump's elections. He's got smartocto.ai and has been advocating the use of user needs and 'usefulness' analysis to foster engagement.


We hope this newsletter has been an inspiration to you. Please do let us know if you found this information useful and if there are areas where we could focus more attention. Do you find this newsletter valuable? If so, please feel free to share it with your colleagues. And subscribe via this page to any of our newsletters. We will be back in about two weeks with a new edition.

All the best!

Team smartocto