How Machine Learning Is Helping Flipboard Flip Passion Into Profit

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The legacy of pretend information has created renewed demand for dependable on-line information distribution. That is the place Flipboard, one of many first digital information curators, is discovering a distinct segment.

Launched in 2010, the Palo Alto-based information aggregator offers a digital magazine-style content material platform that it claims is utilized by greater than 100 million individuals every month. Flipboard expects to hit profitability in 2018, a outcome the corporate says, of connecting tens of millions of individuals to publishers—a excessive proportion of whom are prosperous (and human) audiences that advertisers crave.


Courtesy of Flipboard

Flipboard is relying on cloud functions and advert tech analytics to verify the content material from its advertisers and publishers is being learn by actual individuals.

Very similar to pretend information has pushed a wedge between publishers and their audiences, the specter of pretend visitors—readership numbers inflated by bots—has brought about a disaster of confidence amongst advertisers towards publishers. For instance, shopper merchandise big Procter & Gamble minimize its digital promoting finances by $140 million earlier this yr, citing pretend visitors pushed by bots and having its advertisements positioned subsequent to pretend or in any other case objectionable content material, in accordance with trade commerce publication Adweek

 To reverse this backlash, Flipboard is utilizing synthetic intelligence and machine studying to deepen its evaluation of common information themes, and counting on human curators to inform the distinction between a reputable breaking information story and anecdotal evaluation.

The corporate can also be relying on cloud functions and advert tech analytics to verify the content material from its advertisers and publishers is being learn by actual individuals, quite than non-human bots sneaking in from automated browsers and search engine spiders. By utilizing “bot blocking” know-how, Flipboard claims it has lower than 1% non-human visitors on its platform; considerably lower than most web sites which common 52% bot visitors, in accordance with the 2016 Bot Visitors Report by cybersecurity agency, Incapsula.

Regardless of these efforts, it has taken time for some publishers to heat as much as Flipboard’s platform and for advertisers to really feel snug investing in it. “We had devoted gross sales groups educating manufacturers, companies, and advertisers in regards to the deserves of merging print-like advertisements right into a digital content material platform,” says Nicole McCormack, senior vp of income technique and operations on the firm.

As of June of this yr, Flipboard’s cell app has grown its referral visitors to 1 million every day web page views, making it the fourth most typical referrer behind Fb, Google Search, and Twitter, in accordance with digital publishing analytics firm Parse.ly.

Tying Merchandise to Passions

Along with preventing the pretend information epidemic, Flipboard serves each readers and advertisers by stopping undesirable content material from getting in entrance of its readers. The corporate makes use of machine-learning algorithms that generate “probabilistic information units” to tie writer content material to shopper pursuits, after which establish digital advertisements which are contextually vital to that content material. “Persons are actually bored with being abused on the net with click-bait and pre-roll that has no connection to them or what they’re doing in a specific second,” says McCormack.

To McCormack, understanding why individuals come to Flipboard is essential to figuring out how one can market to them. For instance, “individuals come right here to be taught,” she says. “They use the platform to get higher at their jobs, enhance their well being, be taught extra about their favourite hobbies or discover new ones.”

“We’ve groups of full-time editors and curators from all around the world who authenticate information sources, scour subjects, and examine information traits in 26 completely different international locations,” says Flipboard chief enterprise officer Cecily Mak.

To assist the corporate enhance the way it personalised content material for its rising base of readers, Flipboard acquired Zite, a cell media aggregator app, from CNN. Incorporating Zite’s curiosity taxonomy, Flipboard created a proprietary database storing tens of hundreds of subjects. Whereas advertisers can serve advertisements in opposition to these subjects, the corporate not too long ago partnered with Oracle to curate audiences based mostly not simply on comparable pursuits but additionally demographics or conduct patterns.  Flipboard can then make these audiences accessible to advertisers and appeal to publishers with content material interesting to readers who share comparable traits.

“This was a pivotal second for us,” says David Wigder, head of insights, efficiency, and information technique at Flipboard. The information cloud platform captures real-time details about what customers are studying, whether or not on the net, cell or social platforms, after which faucets into different information sources with comparable attributes. For instance, “enterprise customers who’re studying about know-how may additionally be reserving journey from their laptops, studying cocktail recipes on their smartphones, or reviewing vehicles on Twitter,” Wigder says.

In [Quality] Information We Belief

Mapping these pursuits to its writer’s content material is key to how Flipboard’s platform works. It’s additionally the important thing to serving to the corporate higher perceive the mindset that the individuals on its platform are in once they see advertisements.

Flipboard makes use of Oracle MOAT, additionally a part of Oracle Information Cloud, to measure “reader engagement” past web page views or clicks. For instance, MOAT captures the quantity of display actual property an advert takes up, in addition to how lengthy the person dwells on that display.

After all, not all advertisements are created or measured equally. Most on-line banner, button, or textual content advertisements take up a small fraction of an online web page, which makes it troublesome to find out whether or not shoppers truly noticed these advertisements or ignored them. To mitigate this drawback, Flipboard largely exhibits advertisements that take up a full display, which signifies that every time readers “flips” to a brand new web page; they see a full-page, magazine-style advert earlier than they’ll proceed on to the following web page. “MOAT helps us validate that customers are literally seeing the advertisements and permits us to quantify how lengthy they’re viewing these advertisements,” says Wigder.

Flipboard additionally makes use of MOAT to seize receptivity to video advertisements. On the finish of a clip, for instance, MOAT can decide whether or not the sound is turned on. If the audio is off, it’s unlikely shopper even checked out video.

“These are large high quality metrics,” says Wigder. And through the use of Oracle Information Cloud analytics to seize them, “we will show to publishers and advertisers that our platform delivers true, person engagement.”

To Flipboard, the way forward for information is a vivid one, and the platform for person engagement is cell. Findings from a Pew Analysis Middle survey performed in March present that eight in ten U.S. adults favor to get information on a cell gadget (85%), in contrast with 72% only a yr in the past. “Readers aren’t going to spend time switching from one information website to a different on their telephones,” says Wigder. “They’re going to need one platform that has all of it. And to us, Flipboard is that platform.”

Sasha Banks-Louie is a model journalist for Oracle.

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