Data visualization experts and computer scientists from two Ontario universities are helping one of Canada’s biggest media companies leverage big data to succeed in today’s ever-changing media landscape.
As technology has revolutionized how people consume the news, media outlets have begun adopting a “digital first” strategy to attract and retain both subscribers and advertising revenues. With this shift from print to digital, an accumulating wealth of data on how users interact with web and mobile news platforms presents an invaluable opportunity for media companies to better understand and meet audience needs.
Recognizing this opportunity, The Globe and Mail collaborated with longtime partners OCAD University and York University to develop an analytical tool set that helps drive editorial decision making. Supported by OCE’s Voucher for Innovation and Productivity II (VIP II) program and NSERC CRD funding, they created the Sophi Heads-up Display, a visual analytics platform that provides insight into the performance of digital content. Understanding user navigation patterns in real time allows editors to see what content is popular but under-promoted, and helps editors make changes to the placement of articles on the website and determine what content should be placed behind a paywall. OCAD U’s creative design and data visualization expertise provides editors with more nuanced and enhanced insights than were previously available using an intuitive interface.
In addition, York’s computer scientists have been adding value to The Globe’s analytical toolkit by working on Natural Language Processing algorithms that have been used for recommending stories to users and subsequently leveraged by the data science team to better predict the value of content.
The partners are now developing predictive analytics tools for advertising and pursuing other funding opportunities with OCE.