Better data about your users

“The path to personalization, especially personalization steeped in journalistic ethos, requires access to holistic data about users that extends beyond the borders of the news organization’s platform.”

The problem is not having more data. The problem is having the right, actionable data and the context of its provenance. But publishers see so much of their relationships mediated by a few walled gardens that their access to understanding who their users are, what they read, what they watch, when they do it, and what they do next is only what they can parse in the brief moment in time when they see a session longer than one content page — or if that cookie returns often enough for data to become meaningful over time.

The path to personalization, especially personalization steeped in journalistic ethos, requires access to holistic data about users that extends beyond the borders of the news organization’s platform. The path to making smart strategic choices about what to cover, and where user demand is, requires this data as well.

In 2017, I think we will see a greater push toward the acquisition of this user data. Some collective organizing from the industry with a few players who have access to a more detailed picture than what any individual publisher can obtain on their own, feels like an organic next step. And other sources of data also exist — among them CrowdTangle (at least pre-acquisition by Facebook) or my own employer Taboola — that share editorial insights about user behavior for social traffic (CrowdTangle) or from the open web (Taboola). It is up to publishers to decide whether they will seek out this data, from their own data stores but also from other audience acquisition gateways. It is also up to them to see how much they can leverage it to make smart editorial and business decisions about how to grow their audience meaningfully.

As we look at 2016, the year of wildfire fake news, and ask ourselves what we can do collectively to curtail this scourge, we have to remember that furthering the distribution of quality information is ultimately the most meaningful improvement we can make to this issue. Good user data is an important enabler, and in this respect, its usefulness extends beyond smart business, but indeed, to benefiting society as a whole.

Ariane Bernard is the editorial products lead at Taboola.

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Maria Bustillos   “It’s true — I saw it on Facebook”

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Trushar Barot   API or die

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Anita Zielina   The sales funnel reaches (and changes) the newsroom

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Nushin Rashidian   A rise in high-price, high-value subscriptions

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Lam Thuy Vo   The primary source in the age of mechanical multiplication

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   News after advertising may look like news before advertising

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Tressie McMillan Cottom   A path through the media’s coming legitimacy crisis

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Earn trust by working for (and with) readers

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Richard J. Tofel   The country doesn’t trust us — but they do believe us

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news