Google funds VRT, Newsmonkey & iMinds project 'Providence+'

Woensdag 2 maart 2016 — Google has announced the first round winners of its 150 million Euros Digital News Initiative fund which aims to stimulate innovation among European news media outlets. The Providence+ initiative, jointly submitted by VRT, Newsmonkey, and iMinds has been selected as one of the winners among 1,200 applications. The project aims to develop technology and editorial dashboards for news content providers to monitor and predict the reach of their offered online news.

Towards a data driven digital first news strategy

Providence+ will allow VRT and Newsmonkey to adapt their news production and publication strategies in order to optimize the overall reach and impact on various platforms (online news site, social media, mobile). Providence+ will provide answers to questions such as “Which story works best on which medium on which moment?", “What is best joint strategy for both social media and the own news portal for a given set of news articles?” and “How much audience will this article reach in the next two hours?”. 

The project will combine machine learning techniques for predictions and decision making with rule-based systems that follow publishers’ intuitions and editorial experience. Providence+ builds upon the Providence research project in 2014-15 by Newsmonkey, VRT Research & Innovation and iMinds.

“This project will accelerate the transformation towards a Digital First-driven news workflow by providing journalists in their daily workflows with tools that inform them on how to reach the user on the right channel and at the right moment”
Emmanuel Rottey, Online News Manager at VRT 

With the funding Newsmonkey will develop dashboard tooling that will provide their viral unit and commercial content cell with immediate feedback on the creation of new viral content, on optimal and region-dependent planning schedules and on further exposure of well-performing content.

“The Google funding will allow us to take a next step in technological development. We strongly believe in a fusion of great content and journalistic craft on the one side and insights and instant feedback trough technology on the other. Building a media company of the 21th century involves keeping your eye on the prize in terms of technological evolutions, and that is exactly what we’ve been doing in this joint project. Plus, it also proves to me that the private and public sector can do great things together in media.” Wouter Verschelden, Publisher of  NewsMonkey

Providence+ builds upon the Providence research project in 2014-15 by Newsmonkey, VRT and iMinds.

"In the earlier iMinds project Providence we developed algorithms to accurately predict the viral nature of online news articles in the near future. Providence+ takes it to the next level by using machine learning techniques to predict the best online news publication strategy for an integral news room." 
Piet Demeester, Professor at iMinds

Pieter Van Eyndhoven Press coordinator at VRT