return Home

Is automated content the future?

A BBC report on the future of news, published a few months ago, concluded that within 10 years 90 per cent of all news will be automated and written by software. The story ignited a debate the role of so called ‘robot journalists’ and whether they would put their human counterparts out of jobs.

Someone who is excited about the potential of automated journalism, and sees it as complimentary to what humans create is Wolfgang Zehrt, founder and CEO of Data Driven News Agency Germany, who spoke today at FIPP London.

He predicts that the BBC is right and that a huge amount amount of content in the future will be automated, but that it will be of a certain type and in certain sectors. 

In his presentation at FIPP London he began by stressing how important data has become to the media.

Wolfgang argues that there is now so much data being created and that software can unpick it much faster and more effectively than humans. Computers are also running all of the time and don't need breaks like humans. Also the software can produce content in any language.

Wolfgang then delivered his four steps to automated content.

  1. The first step is the identification of the data source. There are lots of unexplored data sources, for example data generated by elections and also regional data that is never published.
  2. The second step is getting data on board - building a data interface - and then using this to see if there is a story that can be developed.
  3. Thirdly building a data model - the integration of important facts, what does the publishing software need to look for?
  4. Finally generating the text - this is only 20 per cent of the work and costs are coming down. As Wolfgang explains ‘it is not a miracle any more.”

Wolfgang then ran through some of the scenarios in which automated content can be used today. 

He said that key areas are sports reports, weather, finance and traffic. Sometimes the two data sources can be combined to find stories - such as traffic and weather. 

Wolfgang then talked about how important soccer is to automated content. His company has recently done a large deal to create soccer reports from media companies including, for the first time, print media.

“Football generates lots of incoming data,” he added. “The hard bit is finding out what is important and then using the software to look at data and write an article about the game with the most interesting focus.”

Another area where Wolfgang thinks automated content can play an important role in the near future is in the car industry. Data such as ‘which is the best seller?’ ‘what has the most resale value?’ ‘who is buying the car?’ can create fascinating stories which can be used by content marketers as well.

Finally Wolfgang concluded by saying the content could be “published on all platforms directly. The word count is irrelevant it can be 10 words or 2,000.”

Also that from summer a completely automated news portal, the first of its kind, is to be produced in Germany.

More like this

How automation will change content and native ads

Programmatic natives: Sharethrough on automated content

Sharethrough now enables publishers to automate sponsored content promotion

  • Proof that magazine media still deliver the best results for advertisers

    Magazines are a shortcut to quality and continues to deliver top results for advertisers, according to Linda Thomas Brooks, CEO at MPA, USA, said during a keynote on the second day of the FIPP World Congress in London (11 October) last week.

    16th Oct 2017 Features
  • Are digital editions dead?

    Digital editions have been around for a long time, going all the way back to the late 90's. But in 2010 when the iPad hit the digital runway, publishers jumped on the tablet bandwagon faster than they could shout, “Hallelujah!”. The struggling publishing industry had found itself a saviour.  

    16th Oct 2017 Opinion
  • Download the FIPP World Congress 2017 speaker presentations

    View and download the speaker presentations from the FIPP World Congress, 9-11 October 2017, London.

    19th Oct 2017 FIPP News
  • New skills will drive future publishing - FIPP chairman

    Without bringing newly skilled people into newsrooms, publishers will not succeed in the future. This was the stark warning delivered by Ralph Büchi, COO of the Ringier Group, CEO of Ringier Axel Springer Switzerland and newly elected chairman of FIPP, the network for global media.

    16th Oct 2017 Features
  • How artificial intelligence is set to impact media

    Artificial intelligence is a key technology that will transform many industries in the coming years. It is already playing an important role in the media, largely driven by the experiments of platforms like Google and Facebook.

    15th Oct 2017 Features


Visit our Youtube channel


In this article


FIPP newsletters allow you to keep up with industry trends, research, training and events across the world



Get global coverage of your launches, company news and innovations

Go to Full Site