SPH to leverage AI to increase story headline engagement

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has signed an agreement with A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC). This is to create a system that can optimise news headlines for higher virality, to improve audience engagement and media literacy.

The partnership builds on IHPC’s proprietary technology for sentiment and emotion analysis, and will first identify elements of news headlines that are correlated with article popularity. This will then allow SPH and IHPC will then develop a system that conducts affective analysis to predict the virality of an article based on its headline, a statement read.

The move looks to enable SPH journalists, including those based at The Straits Times, to test different headlines for their articles, before choosing the one that would be most effective in capturing a reader’s interest and attention. IHPC will also work with SPH’s data science team from the company’s media strategy and analytics department.

“Article headlines are a key factor in attracting readers to delve into an article. This project will help our newsrooms better understand the emotional impact of different words and phrases used in headlines, so we can improve our engagement with readers and guide them towards important and informative news without resorting to clickbait,” Anthony Tan, deputy CEO of SPH, said.

“This partnership is testament to A*STAR’s research capabilities in artificial intelligence that can be applied across the media and services industries,” Tan Sze Wee, executive director of A*STAR’s Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), said.

Meanwhile, SPH has also launched a new digital photo marketplace called Photonico, which aims to provide high quality stock images in Asia. The offering is led by SPH’s newly-formed digital media product division, which consists of photographers, designers, SPHTech engineers, and editorial staff.

The marketplace is also powered by SPH’s archives dating back to 1948 and a network of local contributors, and currently has more than 12,000 images available for purchase, the statement added. The images are also organised in categories such as Singapore Skyline, Singapore Heritage, Daily Life, Food, Nature and Animals, Business and Asian Countries – available at individual, editorial and commercial use at a fee.

“It will help PR companies, commercial designers, content marketers and individuals enhance their visual story-telling with more relevant images suited to the Asian context. Photos published in SPH’s papers can also be purchased in a plaque for keepsake,” the statement added.

Gaurav Sachdeva, chief product officer at SPH, said Photonico reflects SPH’s desire to position itself as a customer-centric company that comes up with products which serve its users’ needs in the most relevant way.

“Our digital media product team will continue to harness our highly-valued media assets and content creation capabilities to develop innovative products that enrich our users’ life,” he added.

“The classic adage goes, a picture speaks a thousand words. As Photonico grows, our customers will experience the seamless blend of graphic design, artificial intelligence and machine learning -- all of which power Photonico’s backend,” Glen Francis, chief technology officer at SPH said.