How India's Jagran New Media is using AI to increase engagement

News Revenue Hub's strategy to create sustainable local news businesses without paywalls

Jagran is an innovative Indian publisher that has used new technology and change management to drive its business. As part of a Google News Initiative-funded project, they rolled out new data tools that helped their entire organisation make more informed decisions that drove higher levels of content engagement. And now, they are leveraging AI to accelerate their progress. It is an excellent example of how AI can be used responsibly and effective to drive editorial success.

AI in the media industry has created a new pathway for optimising ad, subscription, or service revenue through tools like predictive analysis, recommendation engines, customer journey mapping, audience segmentation, and avant-garde advertising and subscription models.

Guarav Arora, COO Jagran New Media

A really interesting overview of how local broadcasters in the US are driving revenue with new OTT streaming services. One local TV group in the US went from zero in 2019 to 25% of its digital revenue by 2022. And again, AI is playing a role. It is really undeniable that AI is playing a huge role in media operations.

This outdoor ad campaign by Guardian Australia reminds me of my days at the BBC. In 2005, we had a write-once publish to six platforms CMS that delivered headlines to video billboards in mainline train stations such as London’s Victoria station. It is really stunning what that kind of presence can deliver.

This piece struck me because I was just having a conversation today with a member of the team at the Blue Engine Collaborative about the challenges of local journalism, particularly on the revenue side. The News Revenue Hub advocates a free-to-all, no paywall method that works to build trust between local news providers and their audiences so that readers become members. One point I will very much agree with them is that it requires experimentation. You need to try things and learn what works, and those learnings then need to be scaled up across the organisation.

This week in platforms

Ok, this quote grabbed me. Ben Smith, one of the founders of Semafor, talks about the changes at EX-Twitter. And the quote in the headline isn’t the only one colourfully describing the social media landscape now: “social media is now like walking through a nuclear wasteland searching for radioactive nuggets.” Read this. It’s fun, entertaining and bracing. But this is the most important point in the entire piece: “If you keep costs very low, yes. You can make money and build a traffic-based media business. But everything has to be very cheap. So you can’t do journalism.”

There are still wealthy investors who will buy a title like The Telegraph in an effort to influence politics and society.

Watching the battle between the platforms and news outlets, especially smaller ones, in Canada, has been heart breaking. Facebook turned off the spigot all the way, and for so many outlets, their traffic has taken a major hit. Now publishers are aligning themselves with the platforms in an effort to reverse their traffic losses.

Speaking of how platforms can throttle traffic, this report outlines how EX-Twitter under Musk is engaging in anti-competitive censorship by limiting links not only to news publishers but also rival apps. If Twitter had that much market power left, it would be hauled into court. But Musk is driving his clown car into the ditch so it just doesn’t matter anymore.

This was something that caught me a bit by surprise. Of all of the platforms, I find myself spending more time on LinkedIn these days. But the cuts show how soft the ad economy is right now and how much it is impacting media.