Requests from the industry

We receive these kinds of questions more and more often from regional broadcasters, NGOs and other public media we work with:

  • Could smartocto calculate the public or social value of a story?
  • Could smartocto make a distinction between important and less important stories?

We hear these publishers express a need to get insight in the effectiveness of campaigns, stories, articles and other content which serves certain public purpose. They want to be able to determine the impact stories have on the people who read them, and see whether or not the content contributes to their mission. We wanted to see if we could adjust our systems to provide the insights they needed. The result is our new 'public metric', created in smartocto's Story Value Lab.

Advanced metrics

Smartocto has long since abandoned the pursuit of single metrics in favour of a more advanced, 'compound metric'. Our Story Value Engine, with its CPI (content performance indicator), calculates the performance of a story based on a combination and weighing of numerous different metrics, which reveal the extent of loyalty, engagement and reach. However, as with most analytics solutions, it was developed with a commercially driven organisation in mind. Public media needs something else, and we want to give them that.

It's an interesting project because the end result will refine our Story Value Engine, and create an additional layer in our notifications that goes beyond reach, engagement or loyalty, to also consider the publisher's mission.

Pageviews, sentiment or engagement are not enough to determine impact. We need something that reveals the 'mission value'.

Our starting point here is the metric 'intensity'. This calculation already includes engagement and loyalty measures taken from the existing CPI, but it was clear it needed an enhancement: determining what values (data points) play a role in calculating the public value.

This will differ per organisation, where one topic or purpose is more important than others. The target audience will also be accounted for.

Building a public metric

The call for a guidance system based on public metrics is becoming stronger. Smartocto assists many public media organisations on a daily basis and we started thinking: what could such a metric look like?

We've identified three things that are important to take into account.

  1. Audience behaviour metrics
    There are three categories of audience behaviour that show story value: reach, engagement and loyalty. These are all mixed into our current CPI. By being flexible in how we value reach, engagement and loyalty for each client, based on their own business model, we can send real-time notifications that help editorial teams to optimise and make the most of each story.
  2. Conclusions based on those metrics
    While reach is very important for public media, we think putting more weight into engagement and loyalty for public media is a very logical approach.
  3. Story relevance
    Some topics are more relevant to society than others. That's why we like to include a Mission index as well: how do specific subjects correlate to the audiences that we are trying to impact, and the publisher's mission? The mission value of a story should influence how you treat its publication, as is visualised in the image below.
Triple N project

The X-axis shows intensity (a combination of attractiveness and relevance) and the Y-axis shows reach (how much impact the story generated). Any story can be put somewhere in this diagram, but its place depends on the mission of the publishers and the demands of the audience. Once you know where the story sits in the diagram, it gives you a clear picture of what you can do in terms of optimisation. Smartocto's notifications are based on the following:

  • Stories with low intensity can be boosted with tips to create follow-ups from different user needs perspectives.
  • Stories with low impact can be supported by tips regarding distribution, exposure or by smart recommendations.

Smartocto is currently developing this system in collaboration with a number of public media. At the same time, our data science department is investigating collaborations with research institutes in the field.

In addition to this (because we're busy bees), we are also working on a Notification Manager, where editorial teams can create their own notifications and make their own choices regarding which section, topics, authors, signature stories, and metrics should warrant alerts (and when) - but also who should be notified in each case.

Making public metrics actionable

Once we have public value in our system (the Mission index combined with reach, loyalty and engagement metrics), it's possible to create notifications like the following:

  • This story rates highly for loyalty and is 100% related to your mission. It would be great for your homepage.
  • These three stories score high on public value, they are good candidates for your newsletter.
  • FYI: the mission signature story that had the most consumption, is now in the recommendation engine.
  • Your weekly report is out, with the online VOD that delivered the most public value. Check it out
  • The topic [TOPIC] reached the highest public metric this week. Place related content in your homepage carousel to optimise your overall impact.

Smartocto is never a one size fits all solution, and the system can be customised to match your approach to public metric thinking and adjusted to the mission and goals of any organisation.

Combined with the algorithm development we did for the Triple N project, smartocto could also assist editorial teams creatively by giving suggestions to make news articles more explanatory or personal, to get the most out of those important mission-supporting stories.

Develop with us in the Innovation Lab

Everything we build is created with the client in mind, and we always appreciate new points of view or ideas. If you are a strategist at a public publisher that's interested in our public metric project, it'd be great to have you on board in our Innovation Lab. For more information, please contact us or visit the Innovation Lab page on our website.