Readers of SLAM might soon notice something different about the basketball and soccer-focused website. A new audience engagement partnership with Arkadium will help SLAM produce interactive stories and experiences, and gain deep audience insights.
Announced Wednesday, the partnership will integrate Arkadium‘s AI-powered InHabit tech with SLAM‘s content. SLAM joins CNN, the L.A. Times, and Time Inc., among other major publications to receive an editorial boost from Arkadium’s tools, according to the press release.
InHabit relies on AI to read articles for tone and content, and then uses the information gleaned to bring in what Arkadium calls a factive, an interactive data-based graphic. Arkadium’s own team of current and former sports journalists dream up and create those elements, and the publisher, in this case SLAM, determines which articles will get those factives, according to CEO and co-founder Jessica Rovello.
“[Arkadium’s journalists] kind of understand what the reader is looking for, and I think more importantly, the coverage that sports publications are giving to various sports,” Rovello said. “They know what’s of interest in general—what would fly in a newsroom and what a user is interested in.”
The factive won’t be static, and will even update during live games. “The goal here is really for the user to be able to interact with our factive and to be able to do deeper dives on their own,” Rovello added.
The way we consume sports media now—by watching videos and reading infographics—may be about to change. Arkadium’s aim with the graphics is to create a dynamic engagement, where the factive responds to the reader’s interaction and reveals something new and informative.
Not all of SLAM’s stories will get the treatment. Rovello said factives should mesh naturally with the stories, and will only appear on reads that both the humans and the AI deems appropriate—mostly dealing with statistics and transactions. InHabit also looks for a certain length in deciding to include a factive; stories should be more than a couple of paragraphs long.
The information Arkadium delivers allows publishers to see if and how readers are engaging with their content, Rovello explained. On SLAM, the average viewable click-through rate has been over 10 percent in its beta trial of InHabit, and the average user sees close to three factives per session. That helps increase session times—1.5 minutes on average—keeping a reader’s attention and creating additional ad revenue. That bucks the current media trend of decreasing session times, Rovello said, and helps increase brand loyalty.
With readers’ attention being an increasingly rare commodity, InHabit presents a promising, and potentially long-term, solution to digital publishers like SLAM. The SLAM partnership recently finished a two-month beta, and will be introduced on a mass scale over the coming months. Early returns bode very well for a future where AI-powered interactive visuals are ubiquitous throughout digital media.
“This is just the start of the partnership. It’s obviously got some really promising results,” Rovello said. “And we have some really great data now under our belts to help inform us of what is most engaging to readers, which things are most interesting to finding out about.”