The Globe and Mail’s automation and predictive paywall engine, Sophi.io, won WAN-IFRA’s North American Digital Media Award in the category of Best Digital News Start-Up.
“Very impressed with Sophi,” the judges wrote in explaining their decision. “The most important and attractive piece from the creation of this AI is that editorial input was key to it. In many newsrooms, the business models undermine the value of their key product, but from this presentation it’s evident that it was not the case for The Globe and Mail.”
The awards honour news publishers from Canada and the U.S. that have created unique and original digital media projects. Sophi also took second place in the awards’ Best Paid Content Strategy category, in recognition of Sophi for Paywalls, its complex natural-language processing and user behaviour-based predictive paywalling technology.
The artificial intelligence system is also a finalist in the International News Media Association’s Global Media Awards, rewarding innovation and excellence in growing audience, brand, and revenue, in the Best New Technology or Digital Product category. Additionally, Sophi is a finalist in the Digiday Media Awards, recognizing companies working to modernize digital media, in two categories: Best Digital Product Innovation and Best Revenue Diversification Strategy.
Sophi was developed by The Globe and Mail to help the newsroom make important strategic and tactical decisions. It is a suite of tools that includes Sophi Automation and Sophi for Paywalls as well as Sophi Analytics, a newsroom decision-support system.
Sophi Automation autonomously places 99% of the content on all of The Globe and Mail’s digital pages, including its homepage and section pages. This lets the newsroom focus on producing the finest journalism possible and has been so successful that it is now being used for print laydown as well.
Sophi for Paywalls analyses both user and content propensity and determines which content should automatically be put behind a hard-paywall, where the subscription revenue opportunity is many times greater than the advertising revenue forgone. It has uncovered millions of dollars in untapped revenue for The Globe and Mail.
Phillip Crawley, Publisher and CEO of The Globe and Mail, said: “It’s an honour for Sophi to be named the best digital media start-up. We are always looking to innovate, and Sophi has brought us tremendously valuable insights over the years, as well as freed up our journalists to do what only they can do. We are pleased to share this powerful engine with other publishers and help transform the industry with this tool.”
As a North American award winner, Sophi is now a contender for the WAN-IFRA World Digital Media Awards, where the winners from North America, Latin America, Asia, Europe, Africa, India, and the Middle East compete.