News & Opinion

News UK use ‘digital butler’ to cut unsubscribe rates by half

The Times and The Sunday Times are using machine learning to better understand their readers, in an effort to boost subscriptions.

News UK’s self-learning algorithm – nicknamed ‘James’ – monitors subscriber’s reading patterns and provides them with personalised content and formats most relevant to their behaviour in the form of newsletters.

Results from the tests have shown a 49% decline in subscription cancellation rates compared to a control group, with James proving most effective at keeping hold of customers who scored low on News UK’s bespoke customer engagement score.

Mike Migliore, head of customer value, The Times and The Sunday Times said: “The defining challenge that all media organisations face is how do you build relationships with someone you have never met, meaningfully, at cost and at scale. Without the right tools, it’s just not possible. Now, engagement is the highest it’s ever been. We have new customers coming in every day  and James has been no small part of allowing us to do that.”

Migliore added: “This customer might read three times a week for two hours, another might read multiple times a day for five minutes. Without AI, it’s not possible to have a deep understanding.”

News UK took a representative sample of 117,000 customers, across a range of age groups and sent them personalised daily emails to fit their reading habits.

Moving forward, News UK plan to integrate the tool into the company’s data management platform to help deliver targeted and more effective advertising to customers.

Source: Digiday

Hannah Ohm Thomas 05/06/19

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