Where are we 4 months in?

Everything we have done for the project over these past months, has only cemented our belief that the news user needs model will be nothing short of transformative for newsrooms.

From audience interviews that revealed straightforward but illuminating answers like "Mostly I want to read about someone's success story", "It's time for some more positivity in the news", or "I want to educate myself about what's going on in the world", to growth hacks that resulted in higher engagement and a new way of working in the newsroom - it’s been an invaluable exercise in reinforcing what we all instinctively know: that the insights we need to succeed are freely available, but they need better presentation and integration into our workflows.

Triple N is our collaborative initiative with Dmitry Shishkin to bring the 'news user needs' model into every newsroom worldwide, creating a toolbox that helps you choose the right approach for every story to get the maximum engagement. Since September 2020, we've gone through newsroom workshops, growth hacks, deep dives and audience surveys to make steps in creating the algorithm that will make this all possible. It will recognise the primary user needs in each article you write, and advise you on where to go next.

newsrooms produce too much content that the audience doesn't want to read

70% of stories = 20% of traffic

We started from scratch with all our participating clients. A zero measure meant going over no less than a thousand articles per brand in order to determine how the content was performing at the outset, and whether those newsrooms were already, unwittingly, using the user needs approach in their stories.

We noticed the same pattern as the researchers in the BBC World Service project and other brands worldwide: 70% of stories brought in only 20% of traffic. Most of the content produced by newsrooms is not what the audience is interested in. Let's try and change that!

Newsroom introductions

All of our participating clients were able to start producing news needs content after just one workshop with smartocto and Dmitry Shishkin. All it took was a thorough explanation and tasks to start experimenting with new perspectives for news.

Ton Mallo, manager news at Omroep Brabant says the user needs model helps them think more creatively

This proves that it doesn't take much to apply this approach to the newsroom. No additional resources are required - no new tool, no extra manpower, just a different way of thinking. Learn how to introduce the news user needs approach to your newsroom.

Does the 'user needs' approach really work?

During a growth hack the newsrooms focused on producing content for one or more user needs for a month, followed by an evaluation. Does this have an effect on user engagement? Has the experience changed the way our participants think about content commissioning and production?

At this point, De Morgen is still right in the middle of the process, and IDN Times has just finished the first workshop and is ready to start writing user needs content, so we’re eagerly awaiting the results from them.

However, Omroep Brabant has completed the growth hack and they are so impressed that they continue to write these articles every week and are seeing improvements compared to regular stories.

actionable notifications, created for your business model

The algorithm: impressive accuracy

The data we gather about the user needs stories written by the participants is the fuel needed to test our algorithm. While it is still in its infancy, we are already seeing a considerable amount of precision. For the further refinement we'll need a bigger sample size of stories, but the continued efforts of our participants will help us achieve this in the coming months.

Next up is the creation of notifications that will really make this an actionable, useful addition to our product. They are catered to the business model of each client. If for example a newsroom doesn't focus on a certain user need because it doesn't resonate with their audience at all, we will take that into account.

What does the audience want from news?

The main reason to get started with user needs is of course to serve the audience in the best way possible. What do they want from the news? The best way to find out is ask them, so that's exactly what we did. Many of the interviewees would describe reasons for consuming news that matched user needs like 'Inspire me' or 'Educate me', proving that for these outlets, the user needs model is a great tool to create more valuable content for their audience.

Download our 'Actionable user needs' whitepaper

Discover how a user needs project with our notifications changed the workflows, output and engagement of 3 newsrooms.

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