September 27, 2023

Unlocking the Potential: Harnessing AI for Publishers

By Heather Allerdice-Gerow

Sr. Director, Industry Leader for Media Portfolio

AI has become all the rage in the business world. This is in part because it has caught consumers’ interest, but also because it has the ability to transform a business. The media industry is no exception, and AI can solve some of the media world’s biggest challenges.

Of course, within the media industry, different kinds of companies can benefit differently from AI capabilities. Publishers are among the media companies that can benefit quickly from AI, using the tool to jumpstart their business amid a period of increased competition.

How AI Can Solve Publishing’s Biggest Challenges

The publishing industry has been transformed by digital media. The challenge is that the transformation is ongoing, as each new wave of digital technology impacts publishing one way or another. The rise of Google and Facebook slashed into ad revenue, social media changed how consumers interact with content, and the ubiquity of the internet has pushed many print publications into online-only affairs.

Even amid the constant evolution, publishers still struggle with long payment terms and a lack of cash flow.

When it comes to applying AI to the publishing business, it helps to start by thinking about the big challenges and then exploring how AI can help. Here are a handful of issues that publishers deal with that AI can aid in.

  • Ad Optimization: Publishers can use AI to analyze consumer behavior data gathered from their sites. The AI can identify audience segments that are most likely to respond to certain brands, messages and offers, and then deliver relevant ad messages to the consumer segment most likely to respond. This should produce better results for the advertiser, which increases the likelihood that they will work with the publisher again, thereby growing the publishers’ revenue.
  • Personalization: Publishers with large user bases can use AI to analyze their customer data to pinpoint trends, common behaviors, connections, and other patterns. These insights can customize dynamic homepages for websites, or personalized email newsletters to subscribers.
  • Cost Savings: As media companies fight for revenue, any form of cost savings is critical. All of the applications above should lead to revenue-generating opportunities. Using AI across your business can also help pinpoint areas where it makes sense to implement new processes, or even eliminate a product that is not getting the customer support it needs to be sustainable.

AI use case for publishers: Improved search and website functionality

Many of the conversations around AI today focus on generative AI and the ability to create new content from user prompts. In publishing circles, there are questions about whether this kind of AI can be used to create articles and news content. While there are indeed ways to use generative AI to build new content, the best, perhaps most effective use cases are not about making new content, but in improving existing products and instituting operational efficiency.

One of the most obvious improvements publishers can implement is into their on-site experience. AI can automate content tagging, which leads to better on-site search, easier navigation, and improved discoverability via SEO.

Well-established publishers, like newspapers, have decades – if not centuries – of content. Humans have to tag this content based on topics and article subjects, so that the content is detected by on-site search.

AI can automate this process. AI tools can interpret each piece of content and apply the necessary tags, finishing a job much faster than a human could. As a result, the writers and editors tasked with tagging now have more time to focus on what they’re good at, which is the content itself.

As the AI learns from the terms that website users search for, it can further adjust the tagging process, aiding in better discoverability. This works for on-site search, as well as for SEO and how pages will appear in search results.

Meanwhile, generative AI language models can create article summaries making it even easier for users to search and find the content they need, leading to deeper engagement.

Where to start

If your publishing business is wondering where to start with AI, begin with one question: what are my biggest challenges? In all likelihood, AI can help solve some of these major issues. If you look at AI as a fad, or something your business needs to bend to accommodate, then it won’t lead to good returns. Thinking of AI as a tool can aid in the necessary evolution of your business.

Here at 3Pillar we’re continuing to monitor the latest developments in AI and identify how publishers can apply AI to build breakthrough products that transform their business. To get started on a conversation about how AI can apply to your business, contact us.