Google’s Machine Learning Will Help Publishers Drive Subscriptions and Understand Their Audience

It's launching Insights Engine Project

Google wants to help publishers use machine learning to find more subscribers. Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

Google is launching a suite of services to help publishers better understand their existing audience while also targeting ads at readers who are ready to subscribe.

Today, the company is introducing the Insights Engine Project, which will provide publishers with data about who visits a website. Using machine learning, the company said it will provide ways to analyze which types of content and advertising performs well, while also forecasting areas of growth based on historical data and seasonality.

This week, Google is revealing several initiatives, including the Insights Engine Project, to help publishers better monetize their content. On Monday, Google announced it was ending the controversial practice of “first click free” policy, which gave users access to content behind paywalls by searching for it.

Through its DoubleClick platform, Google will also begin helping publishers know whether to show someone a house ad if they’re likely to subscribe. Or, if they’re not, they’ll drive the website to instead show a traditional ad.

During a conversation with reporters following his talk at Google’s conference for publishing partners, Jonathan Bellack, director of product management for Google’s publisher platforms, said the insights Google will begin sharing go beyond what it has traditionally shared with publishers in the past. He said the machine learning will help track trends through aggregate data sources to better understand if a big story is driving traffic or if it’s more of a well-balanced weekly surge.

“Hurricanes used to be predicted by which ships on the ocean had seen the hurricane and which way it seemed to be going,” he said. “And then you started getting satellite information, and now you get an hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute view of where it could be heading.”

Another new feature is the expanded use of insight cards, which allow publishers to have benchmarks for how their content and ad revenue is performing compared to peers while also seeing other metrics like viewability and website latency.

Along with the forecasting, Google is also creating ways for publishers to create data visualizations with a data studio, using dashboards and other reports to both read data and also share it with internal teams or advertisers that want to better understand the audience they’re buying. While the Audience insights tool is a small test, the Google Analytics Data Studio will be launching more broadly in 2018.

Here’s what some of the new dashboards will look like:



@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.