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#27. Does personalization come with risk?

You're reading The Audiencers' newsletter #27, sent out on November 29th, 2023.  To receive future newsletters straight to your inbox every two weeks, sign up here.

The Audiencers’ World Tour 2024

By far the highlight of 2023 was The Audiencers’ Festival, in Paris & London.

So, in true ‘Mads & Marion’ style (we don’t do anything half heartedly), we’re organizing 7 more for next year 🤯

The Audiencers’ World Tour 2024 will hit:
🇪🇸 Madrid, Feb 20th
🇺🇸 NYC, March 14th
🇨🇦 Toronto, March (tbc)
🇩🇪 Hamburg, May (tbc)
🇬🇧 London, June (tbc)
🇫🇷 Paris, Sept (tbc)
🇬🇧 London, again, Oct (tbc)
(and then maybe a spa break in November?)

The goal for these events? To bring The Audiencers’ Community together for knowledge-sharing around solutions. For conversations between audience experts both on- and off-stage. To build energy and excitement over the future of this industry.

Got any ideas for our future Festivals? Interested in getting involved – organizer, sponsor, speaker or attendee? Drop me a message!

In today’s newsletter: 

  • Audience innovation at ABC Australia: reaching and engaging new audiences
  • We’ve done the benchmarking so you don’t have to: a busy end-of-year doesn’t mean you can’t be inspired by others
  • Does personalization come with risks? The debate is on as studies and publisher-experience takes differing points of view on the matter
  • A welcome distraction for your commute
  • Content to add to your reading list

Audience innovation at ABC Australia

For Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), audience innovation and strategy is all about seeking new and unique ways to reach people, rather than relying on traditional methods. 

As an audience strategist, Chloe Watson’s work is to use research plus audience data and behavioral habits to pitch strategies for conversion, engagement, or discovery.

“The most unique thing I’ve worked on is using QR codes to convert real-world audiences into digital ones. 

For Sydney World Pride, the team created a web interactive that re-traced the route of the first Mardi Gras parade in 1978. The project I led looked at using QR codes to distribute this piece of content seeing as we could link the locations from the story to their real-world counterparts. When someone scanned one of our QR code decals on the street, they were directed to a video on the queer history behind that location and a link to the web interactive. This is how we managed to turn audiences in real life into digital ones.”

Audience innovation at ABC Australia

Chloe gives us a look into her work at ABC’s Innovation Lab and some of the initiatives she’s worked on to help develop audience growth, engagement and conversion.

We’ve done the benchmarking so you don’t have to

Everyone seems very busy at the moment, but time-limitations don’t have to mean a lack of benchmarking! Don’t forget about our benchmarking articles that we’re continuously adding to…

> Engagement strategies

> British publishers onboarding journey

> 50+ paywall examples

Does personalization come with risks?

“Personalized experiences and recommendations are everywhere… but there are, however, a number of pitfalls to avoid. Besides thinking hard about how to measure the success of personalized content recommendations and find the right level of algorithm transparency, we also need to take into account whether our users actually want a personalized experience.

Lars K. Jensen’s article looks at this year’s edition of Roskilde University’s report on how Danes access and use news publishers/media which suggests that there is a general concern regarding personalization in news publishing.

Does personalization come with risks?

“Even though Danes aged between 18 and 24 are the least concerned regarding missing out on important information because of personalization, 44 percent is still quite a lot, and they are the age group most concerned with missing out on challenging opinions – perhaps because they are still forming their views.

Now, I am well aware that there is always a discrepancy between what people say when asked and how they actually behave. But this indicates a degree of concern among our audiences we must not ignore.”

How are publishers taking this on board?

Kasper Lindskow, Head of Research and Innovation at Ekstra Bladet, when asked “How big proportion of your subscribers use the opt-out button for personalization?” replied: 

“We have 1) info to users, and transparency whenever a recommender system is at play, 2) the ability to opt out of data collection, and thus personalization (as GDPR requires), 3) the ability to opt out specifically of profiling on “my page” which will turn off recommenders (and personalized advertising).

A very small portion of users use option (3). I wish we had (3) split into (a) opt out of personalized advertising and (b) opt out of personalized news content, but as so few users use the option it’s hard to justify building it at the moment.”

They also run focus groups and have direct feedback to continuously improve performance to suit readers.

Does personalization create echo chambers? 

Schibsted group argues that personalization solves more problems than it creates, also for democracy.

“Worrying about echo chambers is much more justified when a YouTube algorithm chooses from 800 million videos to maximize user engagement than when it ranks 80 Aftenposten articles using an algorithm with editorial signals.”

I also caught up with Christoph Schmitz, Product Manager in charge of personalization at Schibsted, whilst he was in Paris this week who shared that they believe in a combination of manually selected articles and algorithm-driven ranking of stories on the front page

> Let me know your thoughts in this personalization debate, and check out Lars’ article on The Audiencers.

A welcome distraction 

It’s a busy work period at the moment, where everyone’s rushing around to get end-of-year and Q4 targets hit before the holidays start. So I’m here to distract you for a minute with an unofficial tradition that I, as a Brit living abroad, do every year! 

In the UK we have a store called John Lewis who has built a reputation of producing very touching, heart-felt Christmas adverts. It’s become a sort of ‘announcement’ every year – the John Lewis Christmas advert is out! – and everyone flocks online to watch it. For me, about this time of year, I not only watch this year’s advert, but spend a good half hour delving into all the past editions to get me ready for my trip home for Christmas. 

So, as a welcome distraction from this busy work period, here’s one of my favorites for you to discover (from 2014)

Content to add to your reading list


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