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content recommendations

How Local Publishers Use AI for Content Recommendations

Content recommendations help keep people on your website, even after they’re finished reading the articles they came for.

According to data from Parse.ly, content recommendation systems generate a 3.2% uplift in page views. Savvy publishers have been able to get that percentage up even higher by using artificial intelligence (AI) technology to predict what visitors will want to read.

With the potential for a large payoff in the form of decreased bounce rates, local publishers have been eager to add content recommendation widgets to the bottom of most articles on their websites. Let’s learn more about how local publishers are using AI for personalized content recommendations.

What Are Content Recommendations?

Local publishers who want to keep readers on their websites for longer will often add widgets to the bottom of each story that suggest additional stories that readers may want to view.

The articles that populate in these widgets are usually the result of manual related content tagging or a third-party recommendation system that uses algorithms to generate the links that appear at the bottom of each article page. From a functional perspective, that means publishers are adding outward links, either manually or with CMS logic, with the vast majority of website visitors seeing the same stories below each article.

The way these stories have traditionally been selected is by popularity or by subject. For example, someone reading a story about a new restaurant might see recommendations for additional restaurant reviews at the end of the article. If a website’s content recommendations are based on popularity, then that same reader would see the most popular articles show up below the story he or she was reading, regardless of the topic.

Content recommendation widgets placed below articles on local news websites have a proven track record of success, but forward-thinking publishers are always looking for ways to improve, and that’s where AI comes into play.

How AI Improves Personalized Recommendations

Now that we understand how most content recommendation systems work, let’s look at how to make them better.

When publishers use popularity or topic to populate their content recommendation widgets, they run the risk of readers seeing the same content on multiple pages. If a reader didn’t click on an article the first time he saw the link, there’s an even smaller chance he’s going to click on it the second time.

With AI, algorithms can be programmed to recommend articles to readers based on the content they’ve already consumed, combined with any other data the publisher has been able to collect.

What does that mean in the real world? For starters, a reader who spends significantly more time in the sports section than the dining section is more likely to see sports story recommendations, regardless of which section of the website he’s on currently. Location and demographics can play a role here, too. Depending on how the content recommendations algorithm has been setup, publishers could suggest hyperlocal content that’s focused on the reader’s own neighborhood.

The more personalized the content recommendations, the more effective they become.

Content recommendations fueled by AI get more relevant over time. Within a matter of days or weeks, a recommendations algorithm should be able to determine which articles a reader is most likely to click on, so that readers can be exposed to even more of the content they might appreciate.

How Common Is AI in Content Recommendations?

The practice of using AI to improve content recommendations is growing within the local publishing community. According to a survey by Reuters, 59% of publishers say they’re “actively looking into” using AI to improve content recommendations on their websites and mobile apps.

Local publishers with WordPress websites have a number of content recommendation widgets to choose from.

A widget called Contextly gets readers to explore websites by identifying “evergreen” content—that is, articles that are always relevant—and the most popular articles, and then including those articles on a recommendations tab that publishers can add near the bottom of each page. For larger websites, Contextly also offers a personalized recommendations feature.

Other popular content recommendation widgets for local publishers with WordPress websites include Bibblio, which uses “smart AI” to keep readers on websites for longer, and AddThis’ WordPress Related Posts Plugin. Both plugins generate automated recommendations based on what’s most relevant to readers.

If you’d like help adding content recommendations to your own local news website, our team here at Web Publisher PRO would be happy to help.

Multiplatform Publishing Strategy

How to Develop a Multiplatform Publishing Strategy in 5 Steps

In a multi-screen world, multiplatform publishing is necessary for news outlets to survive.

Multiplatform publishing is the idea of posting content on multiple channels in order to reach the greatest number of people. The concept sounds simple, but it can get complicated quickly as different platforms require their own formatting requirements and protocols.

Multiplatform publishing just might be the future of journalism, as fragmentation within the industry has made it so that independent publishers can’t afford to keep their content on one single platform. But coming up with a strategy to publish content on a dozen or more platforms can be a logistical nightmare.

To make multiplatform publishing work, smart content management must be in place. Smart content management allows publishers to seamlessly generate custom outputs, and it relies on cross-platform code development. (We’ll get more into that later.)

Although some might consider the three main types of content in a multiplatform publishing strategy to be online, offline, and in-person, here at Web Publisher PRO we’re focused on helping our clients grow their digital publications. To generate engagement, our publishers are making their content viewable across multiple browsers, devices, mobile news apps, and digital portals.

Here are the five key steps to developing a successful multiplatform publishing strategy.

Step 1: Find the most important publishing platforms.

As a publisher today, you have thousands of options for places to publish your content. In addition to your own website and social media feeds, you can make your content viewable in mobile news apps, news portals, and ebook format. Your website can be—and should be—accessible on desktop and mobile. Even within desktop, you’re looking at readers on a dozen or more different browsers. Mobile readers are using smartphones and tablets with all different screen resolutions.

Can you publish content on all of these platforms? Maybe. But for most publishers, it’s best to start with just a handful. For example, many independent publishers are opting only to support three tablet platforms—Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire, and Samsung Galaxy—at their initial launch. Once your content is accessible on major devices and platforms, then you can start expanding your reach with emerging platforms as a way to bring new readers into the fold.

Step 2: Consider environment when planning editorial content.

Where do you envision readers consuming the content you publish? If you publish long-form journalism, then there’s a greater chance readers will consume content directly from your website on their desktop computers. Short nuggets of information lend themselves especially well to social media or email newsletters. Lots of videos? There’s a good chance your viewers are avid users of sites like YouTube. All this is to say, the type of content you publish will play a role in which platforms you use for distribution in a multiplatform publishing strategy.

Step 3: Structure content appropriately.

In multiplatform publishing, video, images, and editorial content usually need to be structured differently for each platform. As a publisher, you don’t have time to do that manually. Automate the process so that the content from your website can be processed and turned into a number of configured outlets. With XML (extensible markup language), you can create automated rules that will make it much easier to convert content into different outputs. XML is used in the publishing process for any news organization with a multiplatform publishing strategy.

Step 4: Recycle content into new platforms.

Regardless of how well you’ve structured your site’s content and how many automation platforms you’ve adopted, a multiplatform publishing strategy will always involve some manual work. Websites serve as a foundation for most local news publishers. Once you’ve published content on your website, look for ways to extend the lifespan. Extract the most interesting nuggets to use in social media posts. Create video interviews of key players in longer articles to publish on YouTube. Include the first few paragraphs of the day’s top articles in an email newsletter. You could even turn multi-part stories or long-form journalism into an ebook to sell on your website.

Step 5: Use WordPress plugins.

Publishers who host their websites on WordPress have access to a number of plugins that streamline the multiplatform publishing strategy. For example, the Instant Articles for WP plugin adds support for Facebook’s self-hosted Instant Articles. Publishers can publish to Instant Articles with valid markups from their content’s metadata. Another popular plugin is AMP. The AMP for WordPress plugin dynamically generates AMP-compatible versions of articles that load instantly on any device.

Developing sophisticated multiplatform publishing strategies for clients is part of what we do here at Web Publisher PRO. If you have more questions about how multiplatform publishing could extend the reach of your own publication, we’d love to chat.