Alan Herzberger talks VR & NewsOK’s Data Driven Newsroom

The Featured Editor Series is a collection of interviews we’ve put together to find out how our publisher base has integrated the Visual Revenue Platform into their newsroom and how it’s helped them be more data driven!


To kick off the series we’re very grateful to have had the opportunity to chat with Alan Herzberger (@herz). Alan is the Digital Managing Editor for the OPUBCO Communications Group and he and his team have been using The Platform for just shy of a year on NewsOK.com.

VR: What is the most important task that Visual Revenue supports you on during your day?

AH: Visual Revenue helps support our editors as they make decisions every minute about the NewsOK home page. The Visual Revenue recommendations have become one of the primary factors editors weigh in the decision about the treatment a story deserves.

VR: When you have to act quickly, what feature do you find the most helpful?

AH: The Recommendation Value /hr is a feature editors immediately look at each time they see a recommendation, because it adds weight to the Visual Revenue part of the decision-making equation. It’s a nice visual way in the interface that allows the editor to see quickly see how emphatic that recommendation is.

VR: How does Visual Revenue fit into your existing editorial process and was it easy to incorporate it?

AH: We’ve actually incorporated VR recommendations directly into our page content management system (CMS), allowing our editors to see the recommendations in the same screen they manage the content. But even when an editor chooses to use the VR interface in a second browser tab or window, the workflow changes were minimal. Editors are already comfortable with having multiple screens and multiple browser windows for constant communication and decision-making. Adding another to the mix isn’t a great leap for them. And since the recommendations screen helps improve their decision-making and validate their news judgment, it’s a workflow change that’s pretty simple to reinforce.

VR: What action do you take when The Platform recommends a story gets more exposure but you don’t agree?

AH: Editors will simply decline the recommendation when the recommended story is something we don’t want to play up any more than it is. We also often choose the option in the VR interface to remove that story from future recommendations. There could be a variety of reasons for that decision, but it’s all based in our organization’s decision to maintain editor control over our top play stories. VR is a tool the editors use to make more informed decisions about our play stories.

VR: How does the data allow you to better understand your audience?

AH: The front page performance screen is the one place where we can see immediate data about placement on our home page. That’s valuable because referrals from other websites to inside content that’s not featured on our home page can tend to disrupt and editor’s decision-making about home-page display. Just because an article is getting high numbers based on referral traffic doesn’t mean it needs to be prominently displayed on the home page. The VR Platform allows us to focus on our users that use the NewsOK home page as their portal to the content and serve that segment of our audience with headlines that are driving traffic.