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Reach launches new website edited by AI

Reach is testing an AI-powered website that brings together stories from all of its national and regional newsbrands in one place for the first time.

Reach has long shared content between its sister titles when editors think it will be relevant to different audiences, previously on an ad-hoc basis and then via an internal news wire since 2020.

It is now running a beta experiment in My News Assistant, an AI-powered website that aggregates the thousands of articles published daily across Reach’s more than 80 online brands.

It means stories from national newsbrands the Mirror, Express, Star and Daily Record are displayed alongside regionals and specialist sites like Devon Live, Bristol Live, Essex Live, Hull Live, My London, Cheshire Live and Football London.

The site tells users: “Tired of navigating multiple news websites trying to filter out news and topics that’s relevant to you? Well, your search is over!”

The default, non-personalised website shows the categories celebs, news, Formula 1, football and travel, but it asks users to personalise their feed by entering their location and selecting up to 30 interests which are listed as sub-sections in categories such as animals, annual holidays and festivals, business, cars and transport, creativity and culture, reality TV, science and education, and tech.

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Users also have the option to exclude national websites and only include regionals.

The site says: “Our platform offers a wealth of articles from trusted sources, updated daily and is tailored to your interests. With just a few clicks, you can create a custom news feed that keeps you up-to-date on everything from Manchester United transfer news to the latest in neuroscience.

“No more sifting through multiple news websites – My News Assistant makes it easy to stay informed on the topics you care about most.”

The AI technology powering My News Assistant is Reach’s proprietary tool Mantis, which started as a brand safety tool in 2019 and has since been adapted for contextual targeting and then content recommendation.

Since last year Mantis has powered the content recommender widgets on Reach sites, suggesting more personalised and relevant stories to keep people on-site for longer. Mantis can identify the sentiment and emotion attached to the content being read, and uses this data, as well as information about what topics people enjoy, for its personalisation.

Reach’s most recent annual report, published in March, described the importance the publisher is putting on first-party data and personalisation as a way of improving both the user experience and digital advertising yields.

The My News Assistant tech is also now being used to power most, soon to be all, of the search bars on Reach’s websites, meaning they are no longer “powered by Google” as many newsbrands’ search systems have often been, risking taking the user out of the publisher’s own environment.

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