As brands attempt to transform themselves into publishing powerhouses and compete with traditional publishers for eyeballs, they need to keep pace with more than what content is popular. That means staying up-to-date with the latest publishing trends. The hottest one at the moment? Adaptive journalism.
But what exactly is adaptive journalism?
“It’s adapting your internal culture to meet the needs of the external audience,” explains Damon Kiesow, senior product manager for mobile at the Boston Globe. “It’s not about technology or platforms. It’s about being user and consumer focused.”
Adaptive journalism is what I would call the ultimate in delivering — to the greatest of our technical and journalistic abilities — the best storytelling for the user at that moment.”
Using the Boston Globe as an example, Kiesow said it wouldn’t be enough just to take what’s published in the paper and make it mobile friendly. Readers would find it boring and stale. Online readers are looking for more of an experience, so the paper has to find a way to tell better stories using the features available to them on desktop and mobile.
That’s why adaptive journalism is bringing forth a very specific type of personalization that goes far past mobile optimization. It considers several different factors, such as the platform and device someone is using, their environment, and the time of day they’re viewing content, to determine the best way to deliver content.
“Adaptive journalism is what I would call the ultimate in delivering — to the greatest of our technical and journalistic abilities — the best storytelling for the user at that moment, given how much we can presuppose about their time/space continuum,” writes Cory Haik, executive producer and senior editor of digital news for The Washington Post.
Haik uses a live blog of a presidential debate as an example of how this would look in action. If you’re pulling up the live blog on your desktop, that means that you’re probably not in front of a TV; therefore, it would probably be optimal to show you a live feed of the debate at the top of the page.
Adaptive journalism is obviously a key priority at the Post. Washington Kevin Gentzel, their company’s chief revenue officer, recently wrote a post for Digiday saying that newspapers have to start implementing adaptive journalism or risk losing readers forever.
If brands are able to understand and implement adaptive journalism, it will give users a sense that the organization gets it.”
“In a device-first world, the newsroom that delivers across the platform spectrum will define relevance and shape the future of media,” Gentzel wrote. “The combination of platform intelligence and excellent journalism is the key to putting the reader first and continuing to deliver on our tradition of the daily journalism bundle. In the future, the perfect bundle of content will be personalized and will come to you in different forms across many devices.”
Like newspapers, many brands have customers who turn to their sites and social channels for news, information, and entertainment. And those users have the same expectations from brands as they do from newspapers.
“If brands are able to understand and implement adaptive journalism, it will give users a sense that the organization gets it,” Kiesow says. “It shows that they understand their audience and take their needs seriously.”
And as brands battle to build media empires and compete with the best traditional publishers in the world, taking those needs seriously is paramount.
“Consumers will actually think less of a brand if they aren’t up to date on technology,” explains Kiesow. “We all have the technology to change things, but you need someone to decide the best way change them.”