Does editorial content need an eye in the sky?

06 May,2013


By Ananya Saha


Recently, The New York Times set up a news analytics team with the aim of establishing a better understanding of how editorial content is consumed – to know if the content being created is actually working, and if they’re publishing the news the right way, and where and how can they fix the gaps.


With more and more people consuming and sharing news in real time, do media houses in India too need analytics team to make data-driven decisions? Would it help the editorial decisions? Do Indian media houses need it yet? While Sriram Kilambi of Bloomberg preferred to not comment since Bloomberg is considering it, the industry thinks it is the right time to employ data analytics for editorial decisions.


Mitrajit Bhattacharya, President-Publisher, Chitralekha Group

Different media houses have their own methods of assessing the efficacy/ response to their content. We religiously go through the traditional letters and emails from our readers. The feedback is very sharp on new media like Facebook. Based on continuous feedback from our readers we decide to make changes in our edit mix. It’s a continuous process though. Use of analytics is always welcome. It just makes the feedback process bias-free and scientific.



Niteen Bhagwat, Executive Director & CEO – Asterii Analytics

The data analytics and its role in news and journalism was the tipping point in US market after the Obama election campaign. Nate Silver, an analyst had predicted that Obama would win even when expert commentators had predicted that Romney might win. However, Silver’s prediction was right since he based his theory on data available. He made an editorial comment based on marketplace. Now, that was the tipping point. There is a lot of data around that can be used. Even the US papers moved to data-based journalism from opinion-based journalism.


There are three kinds of journalists in a news room: traditional, social media or digital-friendly journalists, and quant or quantitative-oriented journalists. Quant journalists are the ones who can make sense of huge amount of data. Now, whether it is journalism, corporate communication or PR, we will need people in all three buckets or people who have all three qualities.


The second point is, NYT is one of the 100 publications that have a metered payment gateway. And it has registered more subscription revenue than advertising revenue. This makes the publications enjoy more freedom when it comes to content. With data analytics in place, one can understand the online reading habit – can know the demography, or which part of the publication is being consumed more, which will allow more tailor-made content.


Shantanu Bhanja, VP (Marketing), HT Media Ltd

Yes, for sure. While the editorial judgment is paramount, analytics are valued inputs to that judgment. Our analytics team helps us give the editors a pulse of the consumer, as well as feedback on our news offerings in real time as well as over periods of time. The final editorial decisions are taken solely by the editorial team. However, an analytics team provides the reader interface. We carry out various studies, both online and offline some continuous (with different periodicity) and some as and when the need arises.



Projit Chakrabarti, Head – Marketing Services, NDTV Limited

Well certainly for genres of news that fall into the category of ‘information’ or ‘news you can use’; with more and more 360-degree targeting to the consumer  becoming increasingly relevant, data and analytics will drive the dissemination of certain kinds of news and information. It will most certainly help from a contextual and utilitarian point of view but may be not so much from an editorial point of view. Indian media houses definitely need it.


Ashish Pherwani, Partner, Advisory Services, Ernst & Young

At the end of the day, a media house (whether TV, print, radio, website, whatever) provides audiences to advertisers.  With the growth of digital distribution channels and the proliferation of lower-cost hardware options, audiences are changing the manner in which they consume content.  Hence, media houses now not only need to provide their content to their audiences in the manner and format of their choice, but also keep using analytics to understand changing audience preferences, to better cater to them.


Analytics will also enable better sales efficiency – enabling ad sales teams to sell in a more targeted manner. And of course, editorial teams, to understand what type of content do their audiences prefer, at what time and how it must be packaged. Hence, analytics leads to (1) better serving the audience and (2) better monetization of the audience.


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