Why did Omroep Brabant, the largest regional broadcaster in The Netherlands, start using smartocto? Never lacking in ambition and always striving to create maximum impact, they actively search for possibilities to serve their audience better. And what could help them determine this better than insights on loyalty, engagement and story performance? According to Renzo Veenstra, their editor in chief, nothing could.

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"You can either ignore the data and miss the opportunity to grow, or you can act on it and increase your reach."

A data-driven approach to growth

After deciding to focus on online, the company started using data and analytics to keep an eye on their performance. Because, as Renzo said, “if you want to continue to grow, you need to determine what works and what doesn’t. That requires a more data-driven approach." Their head of development Tim Zunneberg started looking for a platform that gave them the real-time information they needed. “We started with Chartbeat, but that didn’t live up to our expectations entirely. Later, in 2016, we were the first regional broadcaster to start using smartocto.”

Minimum effort, maximum performance

At first, the journalists wanted nothing to do with all those numbers, but eventually they started asking for the data themselves. As Tim says: "They shifted from fearing that data would take away their right to decide what to write about, towards regarding data as validation.” That hunger for data also led to their involvement in the development of smartocto Tentacles, the A/B testing feature. They were looking for a way to test and influence article placement and headlines on the website, without having to enter the CMS. Renzo: "To have that situation where an editor does not need to log into complicated systems, but can actually see what's happening to a story right there in the live environment - to me, that's paramount.” With the functionality of Tentacles, they expect to increase the performance of their articles 10 to 20%, without putting a whole lot more effort in.

10-20% more performance, with minimal extra effort

A new way to look at content

In their daily workflow, two things really make a difference, says Editorial Coordinator Lody Trepels. "The first is the notifications we receive that tell us when a story is doing well. The second is the screens in our newsroom that show us what's happening on our channels. In the daily workflow, real time statistics are the most important. One look at the screen will tell you what's happening then and there on our website and app." The recent addition of smartocto Insights to their tool has made them value their stories in a whole new way. It weighs articles differently; not just by clicks but also time on page, scroll depth and engagement and loyalty. It shows that a story with relatively few clicks could still be very successful in terms of impact.

Focus on impact; reach will follow

The insights from smartocto also supported the transition away from emergency news towards stories they care about; a step they hope will set themselves apart from other broadcasters and newspapers. By creating content that matches both their identity and their audience’s they hope to make the most impact. And when that happens, reach will follow as well. Renzo:

“We can actually see, on a story level, how many people are reading and interacting with our content.

That excites me, because as a journalist you want to create impact and now we can actually see if we are.”

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