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.

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

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

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

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

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

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

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

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

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

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

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Trushar Barot   API or die

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

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

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

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

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

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

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins