Onet, owned by Ringier Axel Springer Polska, is one of the leading news brands in Poland, reaching 70 percent of Poles every month, which is nearly 5 million users every day.

Onet’s bet on a personalised news service, rather than a “one size fits all” approach, is one of the major reasons for its business growth, according to Olga Korolec, the Managing Director.

Incorporating AI tools has been a catalyst for the company’s growth.

Using AI, Onet has been able to cater personalised content to millions of its users.
There has been a 600 percent increase in content diversity (number of content pieces published) on the homepage, with a 50 percent increase in the total time spent by users on the platform.
The proportion of loyal users in the brand’s consumer base is growing year after year.
Subscriptions to Onet’s Audio app have increased.

Photo credit: Ring Publishing

Korolec shared these insights during the recently concluded WAN-IFRA World News Media Congress in Copenhagen, alongside Wojciech Ehrenfeld, Head of IT Services, Ring Publishing, Poland.

“We are doing better than television, radio and other digital media,” she said, adding, “We want to combine reach and quality, and scale our trusted journalism.”

However, reaching users with different habits and interests is difficult. According to Korolec, shortage of time is something that’s common among all users.

“One of our main KPIs was to convince users to spend as much time as they could with us,” she said. “So, right now, we are concentrating on loyalty and user engagement.”

Photo credit: Ring Publishing

User loyalty, the new currency

Concentrating on loyal and returning users helps decrease dependence on external sources of traffic.
Loyal users can be monetised through advertising and subscription services.
High-level engagement can be achieved with the help of technology that can provide hyper-personalised and engaging products.

User preferences key for personalisation

Ehrenfeld said, “Personalisation is a common idea. But it is hard to identify how to successfully transform a news portal into a personalised, trusted content platform.”

For this, the publisher built a personalisation engine. Ehrenfeld explained:

To recommend or personalise content, we must understand user activities and preferences.
We must analyse and understand every piece of content.
With information on user activities and content analysis, we can build unique user profiles.
Different user profiles that share the same interests can be combined into segments.
Post this, content can be automatically published to different segments, each receiving tailored content suggestions.

Publisher partnerships a good move

Korolec pointed out that earlier, the company’s homepage was populated manually based on the editors’ choices and gut feelings. This meant the page was uniform for all users.

That changed when competition intensified. Algorithms took over the homepage news selection, and data gathering became more advanced. There was a rising demand for more diverse content.

At this point, Onet partnered with other publishers to provide a wide range of content. “It was a very good move for our company. Now, we have more than 300 partners that provide data for us,” she said.

“This helped our users get what they wanted and spend more time with our content. They started engaging more willingly,” she added.

Going premium was Onet’s most important decision

Onet decided to create a premium tier to leverage its brand value and market position. “It was the second important decision in the history of Onet,” Korolec said.

The publisher’s offerings were completely free until it introduced Onet Premium. This launch offered special content and unique features for paid users.

With Onet Premium, users could access multiple titles in various formats across different platforms without ads. This included PDF versions of newspapers and magazines, as well as podcasts. In short, it offered a bundled package to access almost any title in its portfolio.

Hyper-personalisation for Onet Premium users

In January 2024, Onet went a step further by introducing hyper-personalised content suggestions on their homepage for its premium users.

This means each user receives personalised content and offers. The homepage provides fresh and tailored suggestions each time it is opened or refreshed.

User data, on the news they have already read and clicked on, also helps improve content suggestions. Headlines are automatically adjusted to make them more attractive to the readers.

“To achieve this, technology was key,” Korolec said. Extensive use of AI and other tools helped Onet improve its newsroom and content distribution, she said.

Photo credit: Ring Publishing

AI aids content generation and translations

Onet uses AI Editorial Assistants to assist in content creation within the CMS. These assistants are equipped to advise on improving content, generating summaries and SEO titles, transcribing audio, and suggesting related content.

The newsroom also uses content generators to create articles based on external sources, such as police reports and public information bulletins.

A Content Hub is used to import and translate articles, reuse and adapt existing content, and adjust styles. According to Ehrenfeld, this tool is widely used in the newsroom.

Another tool, called AI Editor Copilot, can assist editors in real-time to expand, paraphrase or shorten text. Editors can also create their own prompts to generate specific stories.

‘AI is our superpower’

“If you are planning to integrate new technologies, cloud computing and SaaS (Software as a Service) should always be a priority,” Ehrenfeld said. “CMS with AI personalisation engines is super valuable. However, openness for integration and keeping pace is important.”

“For us, content is very important. We have been able to provide a variety of content to our customers with our strategies,” Korolec said.

“We treat AI as our superpower. Let’s use it to produce better, faster, and save time to make quality content pieces,” she concluded.

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