3 Reasons Publishers Need to Use Chatbots


As messaging app usage continues to climb, publishers are capitalizing on an emerging opportunity within these popular platforms — chatbots.

Chatbots are artificial intelligence (AI) designed to stimulate conversation with human users. They can alert subscribers to trending news, and eventually — after continued user interaction — recommend news stories that are personalized to meet a user’s interests.

Here’s what you need to know about chatbots — and why they are emerging as a favorite tool among publishers:

AI has reached a stage in which chatbots can have increasingly engaging and personalized conversations, allowing publishers to leverage the inexpensive and wide-reaching technology to engage with more users on a personal level.1

Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s VP of messaging products explains, that the evolution of AI warrants new conversation when discussing the current function of chatbots.

Schroepfer says, “The old definition of what a chatbot is, is not really valid today. The old definition was almost a terminal command interface. Now it’s a much more complex and refined experience…”2

Chatbots are no longer being used to carry out menial tasks, or respond to polar questions. Now, because of machine learning, chatbots possess the ability to create a personalized user experience.

Recently, CNN launched various chatbots across several messaging platforms to experiment with the latest digital trend and take advantage of the personalization capabilities.

In the press release announcing their first chatbot, CNN claims, “Subscribers to CNN on Messenger will receive a daily digest of top stories within the e Messenger app. The bot will also recommend personalized content based on a user’s preferences and learned interests. The experience gets more personalized with each interaction on Messenger.”3

In fact, personalization has become a primary reason for many publishers to invest in chatbots, such as the Scandinavian publisher, Schibsted.

Learn four other reasons why publishers need to use content personalization.

“It needs to feel personal,” said Espen Sundve, vice president of product management at Schibsted. “The strength of publishers is we have people. A personalized experience is how you communicate it, not just technology.”4

Direct Communication
In addition to personalized information, chatbots also create a direct line of communication between users, and publishers’ brand.

In an email sent to DigiDay, Mic, a millennial targeted publisher reiterates how exciting direct communication is for their brand:

“The direct-to-consumer aspect has big potential for us to connect directly with our readers. We’re really excited about the possibilities from a publishing perspective but also from a technology perspective, which has big innovation potential.”5

The ability to speak directly with a publisher can help users tailor their reading experience and give them a quick outlet for any support issues. If chatbots work as they are supposed to, users should have a more efficient and relevant reading experience.6

Increased User Interaction
Perhaps, the most significant benefit of chatbots is their influence on user interaction.

For example, U.K. publisher, The Sun, experienced a noticeable increase in user engagement after they introduced chatbots for football coverage.

On the transfer deadline day — a day where players switch to different clubs — the number of alerts sent to subscribers reached its peak at 41 team-specific stories. Of those 41 stories, 43% of chatbot subscribers clicked through to The Sun’s main site.7

Compared to an average day, when that number was closer to 23%.8

In fact, engagement rates were so high on the transfer deadline day, the U.K. publisher plans to roll out more chatbots focused on other markets, including entertainment.9

And The Sun is not alone.

TechCrunch’s chatbot has been met with similar success. Although, the tech publisher won’t share specific user data, director of audience development, Travis Bernard said that from May to June, the number of subscribers and active sessions doubled.11

“In the next few months, if we continue to grow at this rate, [usership] would definitely surpass the TechCrunch app.”12

In short, chatbots are supplementary to the main publication, relying on AI to filter news and alerts that meet the user’s personal needs, while delivering important benefits to publishers.

Content Personalization

1. Beaver, Laurie. “CHATBOTS EXPLAINED: Why businesses should be paying attention to the chatbot revolution.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 27 Sept. 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.
2. Sutcliffe, Chris. “The age of the chatbot has arrived.” The Media Briefing, 09 Nov. 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.
3. “How Publishers Can Gain Traction With a Bot Strategy.” The Product Blog. N.p., 05 Oct. 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.
4. Southern, Lucinda. “Scale and agility: Inside Scandinavian publisher Schibsted’s 250-person product team.” Digiday. N.p., 07 Feb. 2017. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.
5. “How Publishers Can Gain Traction With a Bot Strategy.” The Product Blog. N.p., 05 Oct. 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.
6. “Should Publishers Use Chatbots?” Imonomy Blog. N.p., 31 May 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.
7. Southern, Lucinda. “The Sun’s Facebook chatbot drove nearly half users back to its site.” Digiday. N.p., 13 Sept. 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.
10. IBID
11. Moses, Lucia. “How Fusion, Complex and other publishers are using Facebook Messenger bots.” Digiday. N.p., 21 June 2016. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.
12. IBID