Media Pitch: Kaleida Wants to Help Publishers Surface The Most Relevant, Timely Content
Data-driven startup Kaleida wants to help journalists work more efficiently so that their content makes the greatest impact online. The newly launched data platform provides insights about the online media landscape, including trends on social media and across different publisher sites. “Kaleida offers APIs and data feeds, research and analysis (with really beautiful charts), and custom email reports that help everyone in the media business make smarter decisions throughout the day,” says co-founder Matt McAlister.
For example, if a certain news story is trending, Kaleida can alert users to that trend and encourage them to share their coverage of that story. Alternatively, if a social channel is over-saturated with a certain type of news story, Kaleida will advise users to not post and put their energy toward a more worthwhile article.
In the following interview, McAlister shares how Kaleida provides insights that allow publishers to make smarter decisions online and increase engagement.
Who are you? What is your technology and how does it work? Who are the entrepreneurs behind it?
Kaleida was inspired by work CTO Graham Tackley and I were doing at The Guardian around things like real-time analytics and open content APIs, but we wanted to do something bigger that made a difference for the entire media market. We knew we could show publishers and advertisers and everyone in media how to stop doing some of the wasteful things they do and how to improve decision making in the areas where they invest their time and energy.
The first thing to do was collect data about what's being published. We started running all the news from all the leading publishers through natural language processors and predictive analytics machines. Then we looked at Facebook activity and some other data sources and formed a sort of map of the media ecosystem. Lastly, we focused really hard on surfacing the data in ways that actually makes it useful and making it look beautiful.
We opened up the web site to the public in January, and we are now working with customers to build data services that work for their specific needs.
Explain your existence: What problem are you solving or opportunity are you enabling? How are you unique and innovative?
We make it easier to see what's happening across the media ecosystem. First and foremost, we provide insights into what content actually resonates with whom, when, and how much.
We can help everyone in the media business with questions like, how much coverage of the latest trend is enough? Why is a particular subject doing so well with politically right-leaning, younger male readers? What kind of people care about coverage of an international conflict, a fashion trend, a controversial celeb or a tech company?
Inspiration: How did you come up with this idea? How does your new tech solution reflect changes and trends underway in the media world?
We were annoyed with changes in the market that are damaging media's credibility and, in our view, hurting society over the long term. There's a precarious death spiral happening where the confluence of ineffective advertising, inexplicable social distribution, and hasty publishing are amplifying and even strengthening some of the worst aspects of the media ecosystem.
We wanted to surface the things that are working well and, as a result, make it clearer what's not working so well, too.
It's hard to see the waves from the surface of the water. But when you get up high you can see them coming from further away and decide what you want to do before the wave decides for you.
For example, we can suggest to publishers which stories they should post to their Facebook brand page next because we can see how people are responding to coverage across the market. Let's say your version of the latest product announcement is moving faster than the competition, but they just promoted theirs. You should know that and have enough data to decide that promoting harder is important or maybe that people have lost interest already and decide to leave it alone. Sometimes being quiet is the right thing to do.
Results: How have you or do you plan to help media companies increase revenue or cut costs? Can you quantify this?
Our initial customers have been able to see opportunities that they didn't know were possible. For example, our custom email report recently suggested to The Guardian's social team that they promote an article about Shell and climate change on their Facebook brand page. As a result there was a massive lift in social shares.
We can also show when to stop covering a story or to change tactics. A story on Brexit, for example, was important to editors but received a lukewarm reception from readers. The Telegraph published six stories on the news. One outperformed the competition. One underperformed. Four were published well after interest had peaked. By comparison, The Independent did two stories and earned four times the shares on Facebook.
Our intention is to provide really useful data that actually has insights for all kinds of decisions people working in media make throughout the day.
Share some wisdom: What do you think are the most important trends affecting the media business today? What do you see that no one else sees?
The biggest issue for everyone, not just editors, is quality. We've been drowned in media in every possible way. People can hardly breathe and think for themselves. We are living in an attention economy, and competition is fierce but fighting noise with noise is the wrong way to win.
We believe the pendulum will swing back again, and quality will find a way to bubble up and make an impact. But surfacing from these depths is getting harder not easier.
Everyone working in media needs to understand what they are up against. We used our data to do a deep dive on Breitbart recently, and it was fascinating to see how they operate. Putting some transparency on the way the media operates will hopefully help those who are focused on quality to make decisions that separate them from the orgs who are pushing agendas and disrepecting the public's intelligence.
What’s Next? How do you plan on expanding or improving on your offering? Where do you see opportunities for growth?
We've only dabbled in predictive analytics, and our data doesn't yet include ad spend. There are other data sources and more publishers and other user behaviors we want to track. There are features we want to provide so customers can integrate Kaleida data directly into their CRM tools, content management systems, ad targeting, and marketing automation services.
We're very conscious of the need to apply the insights we can dig out of this big data set in ways that actually serve a specific function for people. We're not producing beautiful charts for the fun of it, though it is actually really fun.
We're working really hard to make the data tell stories and suggest things to customers that ultimately help us collectively reinvigorate the media industry.
Matt is an experienced leader in media tech. He has led digital business at print publications (The Industry Standard and InfoWorld), developed APIs and open data initiatives at big media companies (Yahoo! and The Guardian), and he has started new companies (Contributoria, Publish.org and Kaleida Networks). He also writes about changes happening in the industry for The Guardian.