Digital Media: The convergence of premium journalism, big data and advanced technologies

Today’s consumers of online content fully embrace their “digital native” identities, where appetites for timely, diverse, personalized, and largely free experiences are strong. Pervasive mobile computing, ubiquitous data, and an always-on media stream with an infinite array of choices feed this hunger.

Delivering high-quality content experiences for readers

The Microsoft News approach to satisfying the needs of the digital news audience rests on four primary pillars:

• Trustworthy content
• Support of high-quality journalism
• An innovative technology platform
• Expertise from a global team of news editors

In a world of where misinformation is a topic of critical concern, establishing partnerships with well-respected publishers around the world is paramount to reader satisfaction and trust. These partnerships enable Microsoft News to deliver content to hundreds of millions of users worldwide in 28 languages on canvases owned and operated by the Microsoft and other third parties. Whether consumers are reading news on MSN, using the Edge browser on Windows 10, or launching the Xbox, engaging content experiences powered by Microsoft News can be found.

This rich ecosystem, populated by multiple publishers and advertising networks, generates a unique financial value that publishers can use to further fund high-quality trustworthy journalism. This model supports a free, well-funded journalism community, critical to society.

Unsurprisingly, technology sits at the core of this model, utilizing a custom, Azure-hosted CMS. The system ingests feeds from publishing partners around the world using common industry standards (such as RSS or Atom). Incoming content (approximately 170,000 pieces per day) is validated against a complex set of criteria to ensure quality.

As content is evaluated and then presented to readers, advanced technologies combined with human editorial expertise is at play. 800 editors around the world select content that best represents the trending and timely news of the day. Behind the scenes, content is catalogued and ranked using machine learning models that leverage the work of the Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Microsoft Research teams.

Each reader receives a unique flow of content. Cutting-edge personalization engines precisely infer a user’s preferences based on past behavior and current trends. These models go beyond mere content recommendation (using supervised learning), into the area of semantic understanding and the models adapt in real-time to capture engagement on trending stories.

Of course, news experiences are instrumented to provide site analytics and run concurrent UX experiments. This data stream provides editors and product managers with line of sight into engagement patterns and content consumption, in turn, informing programming decisions.

Quality above all else

The industry of digital publishing continues to evolve at top speed as does the desire from readers for trusted and high-quality content. Throughout 2019, the industry will likely to see continued growth in live video, augmented reality experiences, and advancement of machine learning models. The key to success remains rooted in an audience-centric approach and a business model that supports quality journalism.