When is the GDPR applicable to non-EU media companies?

The GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, is the EU’s most recent attempt to create a harmonised data protection framework across all Member States. It aims at giving users more control over their personal data, and making the storage, transfer and use of such data more transparent. But as the enforcement date approaches, a couple of misconceptions are circulating on the internet. The extraterritorial reach of the GDPR, especially, has confused a lot of non-EU companies about whether the GDPR actually applies to them or not. The complexity of the GDPR doesn’t make figuring it out easier.

“If the company is located in the EU or has an establishment in the EU, GDPR applies to its data processing activities.”

First off, the territorial scope of the GDPR can be found in Article 3. In short, the GDPR applies to (i) companies located in the EU and/or their establishments in the EU, (ii) non-EU companies targeting their products and services at the EU, and (iii) non-EU companies monitoring the behaviour of users in the EU.

An EU law applies to EU companies

The GDPR applies to any company or its establishment located within the EU, regardless of where the actual processing takes place. Under the GDPR, it does not matter that servers are located in a non-EU country – if the company is located in the EU or has an establishment in the EU, GDPR applies to its data processing activities.

What about non-EU companies?

Of course, the European Commission is aware that personal data from people in the EU are not necessarily collected by European companies. Business is increasingly global and many non-EU companies attract users from all over Europe, whether they wish to or not. At the same time, it’s certainly not the European Commission’s intention to start monitoring all data processing around the world. The GDPR itself clarifies that it’s not because a website is accessible to people in the EU, that it should automatically fall within the GDPR’s scope.

That’s why Article 3 of the GDPR extends the territorial scope to include non-EU companies when they engage in certain activities. These activities include targeting and monitoring.


If a non-EU company is offering products or services to users located in the EU, its processing activities relating to those users also fall under the GDPR. It doesn’t matter if the user is required to pay or not. This wording implies that the company must have the intention of targeting people in the EU.

The question now is how authorities will determine when this intention exists. Of course, the GDPR is new and there’s no set of precedents to look at. But there is some guidance to be found in the recitals of the regulation and in previous case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Recital 23 first states that “the mere accessibility of [the company’s] website in the Union, of an email address or of other contact details, or the use of a language generally used in the third country where the controller is established” is not sufficient to establish such intention. Factors that could however point to the offering of goods or services in the EU, are for example “the use of a language or a currency generally used in one or more Member States with the possibility of ordering goods and services in that other language, or the mentioning of customers or users who are in the Union”.

“If a non-EU company is offering products or services to users located in the EU, its processing activities relating to those users also fall under the GDPR.”

Other factors that may indicate the intention of offering goods or services in a certain country can include the following:

  • The international nature of the services, for example services from travel agencies or tour operators;
  • Paying for marketing or advertisements in the EU;
  • Having a top-level domain name ending in .eu or any of the Member States’ suffixes;
  • Featuring a local telephone number on the website;
  • Featuring languages specific to one or more Member States on the website;
  • Providing the possibility to use a local currency;
  • Providing the possibility to ship goods to a Member State.

In any of these cases, there is a chance an EU data protection authority will consider the GDPR applicable. On the contrary, if there is no such intention to market goods or services to EU clients and there are no actions taken to facilitate the provision of goods or services to EU clients, there is no reason to worry about the GDPR (provided you do not fall under the monitoring rule below).


The GDPR will also apply to companies that monitor users’ behaviour, as far as their behaviour takes place within the EU. Again, more information can be found in Recital 24: monitoring takes place when “natural persons are tracked on the internet including potential subsequent use of personal data processing techniques which consist of profiling a natural person, particularly in order to take decisions concerning her or him or for analysing or predicting her or his personal preferences, behaviours and attitudes.”

According to the Article 29 Working Party, the EU’s advisory body on data protection, this clearly includes all forms of tracking and profiling on the internet, including for the purposes of behavioural advertising.

“The GDPR will also apply to companies that monitor users’ behaviour, as far as their behaviour takes place within the EU.”

It’s also worth mentioning that article does not use the terms ‘EU nationals’, ‘EU citizens’ or ‘EU residents’. Their applicability is therefore not connected to a person’s nationality or residence, but rather to the location of a person in the EU. Strictly speaking, the GDPR therefore also applies to the data of an American tourist on holiday in Italy, collected while he was on Italian soil. But in practical terms, this will be extremely hard to track by any national data protection authority.

What’s next?

The implications of the GDPR will be consequential, even huge for some companies, so it’s important to have the correct information. The Article 29 Working Party admitted in a press release of February 2018 that it is “continuing its work on the development of a position on the application of Article 3 of the GDPR, relating to its territorial scope.” This means we may not have all of the pieces of the puzzle just yet. Nonetheless, non-EU companies should definitely start by asking themselves the following questions:

→ Does your company process personal data?

If not, congratulations, you’re outside of the scope of the GDPR! If the answer to this question is yes, then you should look at the following questions:

→ Is your company located in the EU or does your company have an establishment in the EU?
→ Does your company offer goods or services to users in the EU?
→ Does your company monitor the behaviour of users in the EU?

If the answer to at least one of these questions is yes, your company’s processing activities will most likely fall within the scope of the GDPR and you may want to reassess your company’s data protection policy.

Looking for more information? Watch our full webinar EU GDPR: What Media Organizations Need to Know to understand how to navigate through these complex regulations and secure your media organization’s position as a leader in GDPR compliance.

Morgane Van Ermengem

Morgane Van Ermengem heads the London branch of theJurists, a contemporary legal boutique office and pioneer in digital law. Her main areas of expertise include data protection and privacy law, intellectual property law and contract law.

The Power of Performance: The Viafoura commitment to site optimization

Media companies and content sites invest heavily in optimizing their page load times, which is why Viafoura works to ensure that we minimize the impact our solutions and tools have on the performance of the pages they appear on.

As users move increasingly to mobile for content consumption, and as search engines begin to factor performance into search ranking, it is increasingly important to ensure that media companies, content sites and their selected vendor solutions are laser-focused on optimizing performance.

Our dedication and focus on supporting the goals of our clients continues to pay off, as we currently lead the industry with product load times that are 63% to 190%1 faster than our competitors. Our solutions enable our clients to be user-focused, providing them with the tools needed to create an enjoyable and engaging experience on their sites, which has proven time and time again to be the best long-term strategy for building online communities.

Why performance is important

Put simply, people are impatient and have almost unlimited choice. Data shows that reducing load time has a measurable and meaningful impact on bounce rates. From one recent study, reducing page load time from seven seconds to five seconds decreased the bounce rate by 10.1% and increases pageviews by 32%.2

Because users favor performance, search engines, especially Google, already factor performance into search rankings.3 As a result, not only does performance remain a bounce risk factor, it is becoming a discovery risk factor and needs to be considered as part of any SEO strategy.

Key factors for measuring third-party script performance

Bundle size and render time are the two key factors that should be measured to understand the impact of the tools you load on your site:

Bundle Size

Bundle size is the actual amount of data that the tool needs to load on the page in order to function. This can impact the overall size of the page, which can potentially impact performance depending on factors such as the speed of the user’s current internet connection. While a useful quantitative measure, bundle size is very indirectly correlated with how the site actually feels to users.

Render Time

Render time is arguably the most important factor for measuring third-party tools on your site, and is defined as the time it takes for the tool to begin loading its code until it is fully displayed on your site. Render time is the qualitative perception that your end users will have of the performance of your site, and is what search engines are most focused on with regard to ranking.

Perception is critical

When measuring bundle size and render time as it relates to incorporating the tools used on your site, it’s important to remember that perception is key. Render time will have a much larger effect on the performance of your site within Google’s algorithms, compared to bundle size. Viafoura factors both measurements into all of its offerings, ensuring efficient load times across its customers’ web pages, and keeping overall user experience in line with your brand’s standards.

Interested in learning more? Connect with a representative:

Book a Meeting

[1] Testing conducted in internal lab using similar feature configurations in real world settings. Care was taken to test on the same hardware and network conditions. Our tools were tested against all the major commenting systems including Coral Talk, Facebook comments, Spot.im, Livefyre and Disqus.

[2] How Page Load Time Affects Bounce Rate and Page Views – Section.io.” 10 Aug. 2017, https://www.section.io/blog/page-load-time-bounce-rate/. Accessed 26 Jan. 2018.

[3] “Google Search will start ranking faster mobile pages higher in July ….” 17 Jan. 2018, https://venturebeat.com/2018/01/17/google-search-will-start-ranking-faster-mobile-pages-higher-in-july/. Accessed 26 Jan. 2018.


[Webinar On-Demand] EU GDPR: A Snapshot of What Media Organizations Need to Know

All media organizations with any audience presence in the EU will be heavily influenced by the GDPR requirements, and implementing new standards with no prior precedent to follow can be extremely difficult.

During our live webinar EU GDPR: What Media Organizations Need to Know, key industry leaders discussed how to approach the upcoming GDPR regulations. Morgane Van Ermengem, legal officer for theJurists London, walked viewers through the ins and outs of the new regulation, and Deborah Henderson, president of DAHenderson Consulting Ltd. and a member of DAMA International, explained how GDPR will impact media organizations internally and externally.

Morgane Van Ermengem

Morgane Van Ermengem heads the London branch of theJurists, a contemporary legal boutique office and pioneer in digital law. Her main areas of expertise include data protection and privacy law, intellectual property law and contract law.

Deborah Henderson

Deborah Henderson, B.Sc., MLS, PMP, CDMP, CDP, has over 30 years in data and information management, consulting to many sectors across North America, and coordinating experts across the globe in best community practices in IT.
GDPR applies to all personal user data, so media organizations need to understand the meaning of both collecting and processing personal data. During the webinar, Morgane addressed both of these important topics.

New obligations under GDPR include the implementation of a data protection officer (DPO) and the required notification of any data breach. Any data subject, or rather, user, has the following rights:
  • Right to information
  • Right to access
  • Right to ratification
  • Right to object
  • Right to be forgotten
To learn more about the importance of having a DPO and more on user’s rights, watch the full webinar here.

Deborah Henderson, who has more than 30 years of data management experience, led a comprehensive overview of GDPR’s impact on data. Media companies fill the role of data controllers, which means the implementation of GDPR requirements will be an ongoing cultural shift. She recommended companies conduct a current state assessment to better understand what changes need to be made in order to be GDPR-compliant. Additionally, there are different types of data that are now protected under GDPR—personally identifiable information (PII) and sensitive personal information (SPI). Protecting PII and SPI provides different operational challenges depending on the perspective.

From a customer perspective, media organizations must incorporate a way to answer customer questions regarding data From an IT perspective, some form of “gate” (or protective measure that flags when data is being used and requires permissions for access) must be implemented for projects that use data.

For more expertise from Deborah, tune into the webinar on demand here.

Under GDPR regulations surrounding the “right to be forgotten”, the importance of a user not only visiting your site, but actively and repeatedly returning for your content (as opposed to leveraging their right to be forgotten) has never been higher. So how can a media organization ensure they are a constant resource for their audiences?

Viafoura, as a data processor, will proactively monitor and make adjustments to comply with GDPR. From amending its master service agreements and conducting periodic compliance checks, to providing API endpoints to consent and profile deletion capabilities.

Watch the full webinar EU GDPR: What Media Organizations Need to Know to understand how to navigate through these complex regulations and secure your media organization’s position as a leader in GDPR compliance.

Top 8 Best Practices to Setting Effective Community Guidelines

For media companies, comment sections offer users a place to participate and engage with your journalists and each other. However, comment sections can easily turn toxic without moderation tools in place to rein in spam and abuse. When creating your own community guidelines, we recommend following these tried and true best practices for building a safe, productive community:

Keep users safe

With the proliferation of social media, some of the basic fundamentals of not providing personal information have been lost. Include in your community guidelines an emphasis on staying safe online, and a reminder to not post personal information about themselves or others. You can also eliminate posts that include this information on behalf of the user.

Stay on the right side of the law

our guidelines should make it clear that comments including content that appears legally objectionable or encourages/condones a criminal offence, any form of violence or harassment will not be tolerated. Not only does this provide a safer community for your users, but also shows that your organization was proactive in eliminating illegal content.

Proactively whitelist and blacklist websites

Once your community has been commenting for a while, it’s easier to recognize sites that you know to be safe or spam. Opt to save time in your moderation by whitelisting the safe sites and blacklisting spam.

Enforce community guidelines with user bans

Community guideline violations are enforceable through user bans. A user’s first infraction should result in a short ban, with each following infraction resulting in a longer ban time. For example, a first ban for serial flagging would be for one hour, the next ban for personal attacks would be one day, and the following ban for repetitive posting would be three days. Make sure the messaging accompanying the ban explains the violation, a link to the guidelines for more information and a concrete amount of time for the user’s account to reactivate. This ensures nothing gets lost in translation, sets expectations and provides additional resources for the banned user to understand the ban.

Delete repetitive posts

When someone posts the same comment over and over again in your community, it’s likely spam. Automatically identify word-for-word posts, hide them from view, then choose whether or not you would like to ban the user for a preset amount of time.

Think of all the ways users can abuse the comment section

Users can abuse each other and the platform by more than just calling each other names within the comments themselves. One example of this is when one user flags another user’s content as a violation when it is clearly not. “Serial flagging” is a violation that can lead to a user being banned when more than 50 percent of the content they flag does not violate community guidelines.

Make clear what content is unacceptable

Sometimes we have a concept of what is or isn’t allowed in comment content, but creating a clear, unassailable description in your community guidelines can help prevent initial violations and give your moderators a reference to point violators to that clearly defines unacceptable content. Examples of content to explicitly define as unacceptable include personal attacks, vulgar or obscene content, libelous or defamatory statements, and anything that can be described as threatening, abusive, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable.

Make it clear you reserve the right to review and moderate all comment content

Ultimately, you are in control of your online community. Remind users in your community guidelines that you reserve the right to remove or edit comments and permanently block any user in violation of your terms and conditions. This umbrella statement gives you complete control over the content your community produces, guaranteeing your community’s discourse will be positive and productive.

Click here for more information on Viafoura’s Moderation Suite, which provides you with all the tools you need to ensure civil conversations in even the largest online communities.

Learn how Viafoura Automated Moderation is empowering media companies to manage their communities in real-time.

Learn More

How Audience Engagement Tools Impact Revenue

What is audience engagement?

Engaged users increase your pageviews, time on site, and ultimately, revenue.

But what is an engaged user exactly?

Simply put, it’s a website visitor who is actively involved with or interested in your brand. In a study led by researchers from Google and Yahoo, they categorized user engagement in four ways:

  • Bounce: user did not engage with the article and left within 10 seconds after arriving
  • Shallow engagement: user stays and reads 50% of the article
  • Deep engagement: user reads more that 50% of the article (means he had to scroll down which indicates commitment)
  • Complete engagement: user posts a comments or a reply on the article

We would define an “engaged user” as anyone who likes, dislikes, shares content/comments, posts a comment, replies to a comment, or follows content/authors/other users. The more actions they complete, the higher their engagement.

It’s also important to note that some actions are “worth” more, or signify higher engagement. For example, a user who posts a comment is more engaged than someone who simply likes content, because they are taking more time to provide a personal opinion. A user who follows an author, story, comment or other user is more engaged than someone who shares an article because they are proactively choosing to be informed and updated in real-time, showing significant interest.

So how do you engage your audiences or encourage them to perform these actions?

Audience engagement tools increase social interactions

Audience engagement tools give users more opportunities to engage with your brand and other community members, much like social media.

Here are some common audience engagement tools:

  • User profiles: Displays user’s username, avatar, comments, likes and followers
  • Notification feed and alerts: Displays breaking news, new comments/replies, updates to content that has been followed
  • Web push notifications: Sends breaking news alerts to user when they’re not on your website
  • Social share bar: Allows users to quickly and easily share articles to social
  • Real-time commenting: Allows users to see online discussions unfold in real time and post comments
  • Follow features: Users can follow other community members, authors, topics or stories to receive real-time updates
  • Trending articles: Users can view top performing articles in real time
  • Editor’s pick: Displays best comments in prominent positions on your website to reward commenters
  • Badges: Colorful badges that appear beside users’ avatars, indicating who are the authors, moderators or trusted users

Media brands and publishers using these types of tools can expect to see significant increases in comments, replies and likes. One such brand, Graham Media Group, saw the following results after implementing engagement tools across seven of their news sites:


increase in total
comments & replies


increase in
total interactions


increase in
comment per user


increase in
replies per user

We also found that users who visited pages with engagement tools produced a 248% lift in weekly pageviews per user and a 364% lift in time-spent on site per week.

Here are the results:

Total Weekly Pageviews per User Total Weekly Attention Time per User
Did not view engagement tools 2.07 4.07 minutes
Viewed engagement tools 7.20 18.80 minutes

Additionally, across our network of 600 brands, 80% of all user registrations occurred on pages with engagement tools. And users who register generate 5x more return visits per week compared to non-registered users.

Now we come to the final question: how do these KPIs impact revenue?

Increased ad revenue

Research from data scientists confirms that not only do pageviews per visit increase ad revenue, but so does session time per user, as depicted in the graphs below. It’s also evident that getting users beyond the first few pageviews or seconds offers exponential revenue potential.



You’ll notice that session time has a surprisingly similar positive correlation with revenue as pageviews. Increased attention time means that there is more time for the ads to load on the page, and there is also a greater chance that a user will see the ad and potentially click on it.

Increased subscription revenue

Researchers Zalmanson and Oestreicher-Singer found that a user’s willingness to pay for premium services is more strongly associated with their online social activity than their content consumption.

In other words, users who engage more with other community members and with content are likelier to subscribe. In order to raise engagement levels, they suggest content producers should invest in a platform that provides the social engagement tools necessary to encourage active participation.

Doing so can increase subscriptions significantly, as witnessed by a New England media company whose digital subscriptions jumped by 410% over three years after implementing automated audience engagement and targeting tools. Additionally, by displaying relevant content to anonymous visitors, they were able to increase the number of registered users by 9%.

Interestingly, Zalmanson and Oestreicher-Singer also found that users are more likely to subscribe if they have connections with other subscribers. The more subscriber friends that users have, the likelier they are to pay for premium services. This is likely due to the psychological phenomenon of social proof or social influence, where people mimic the actions of others because they assume it’s the “correct” behavior. Knowing this, publishers may want to consider how they can highlight their subscribed users so that their followers/friends are aware of their purchase decision.


If you have the right audience engagement tools in place, your audience will return to your website organically and regularly.

It’s also less expensive to encourage your current website visitors to engage than it is to purchase new eyeballs on an ongoing basis, similar to acquiring new customers vs. retaining your current ones. Not only will you save on marketing and advertising costs, but you will also increase your pageviews, attention time, online interactions, and most importantly, your advertising and subscription revenues.

Connect with us today to learn how Viafoura can help you engage, discover and grow your audience.
Connect Now

Viafoura Releases Next Generation Audience Development Platform

Building on our industry-leading commenting and engagement tools, Viafoura releases new tools, a modernized look and an improved user experience to the Audience Development Platform (ADP). Viafoura’s Next Generation Audience Development Platform provides all the tools you need to engage and grow your online community in real time.

New Features

commenting widget in viafoura audience development platform

Real-Time Commenting

  • Follow users
    Users can follow other users directly from the comment thread to instantly view their interactions in a notification feed
  • Highlighted author comments
    Author comments are highlighted to notify users that the author is interacting
  • Adding images & videos
    Users can now post multiple images and videos to a single comment
  • Image & video gallery
    All images and videos on a page are added to a gallery; images and videos can also be added to gallery without posting a comment
  • Easy customization
    Color customization requires less coding

browser based push notification in viafoura audience development platform

Browser-Based Push Notifications

  • News alerts
    Push breaking news and personalized messages to your users even when they aren’t on your site
  • Comment replies
    Drive re-engagement by pushing notifications of comment replies to users
  • Easy integration
    Avoid the massive expense of building and maintaining mobile apps

Follow Features

  • Follow authors
    Users will get notifications when authors posts new content
  • Follow page/section
    Brands can add a “follow” prompt to any page, section, topic or story
  • Follow episodes
    Followers are notified of every new episode, podcast or video
  • Follow product availability
    Notify users when products are back in stock for purchase

Notification Feed

  • User notifications
    Displays all user notifications in a sliding sidebar, such as replies, likes and followed content
  • Easy access
    Users can access the feed from anywhere on your site
  • Notification bell
    A bell icon indicates the number of new notifications
  • News alerts
    Deploy breaking news alerts to your audience no matter where they are on your site
  • Follow features
    Allow users to follow other users and comment threads, with updates showing up in their feed

Community Tab

  • View followers
    Allow users to see who they are following and who is following them
  • Follow recommendations
    Automatically suggests users to follow
  • User stats
    Shows number of followers, likes and replies

User Profile Tab

  • Personal profile
    Shows users their own avatar and comment history
  • Other user profiles
    Displays another user’s avatar and comment history after clicking on their name

FAQs for Viafoura Clients

  1. How easy is it to upgrade?
    Depending on the amount of customization, the upgrade can be extremely simple. Simply contact your Client Success Manager to walk you through the entire process.
  2. Does it cost more?
    There are no additional costs to clients.
  3. Is there any work I need to do to integrate styling?
    Yes, the new experience has richer tools that you can customize with your own CSS.
  4. Is there a new JS I need to integrate?
    Yes, there is a new integration script.
  5. What kind of impact will I see to KPIs?
    With more opportunities to engage your community members, you can expect to see a rise in your website’s engagement metrics like pageviews and attention time.
  6. Have these new features been used by any existing customers?
    Yes, many of our clients have integrated these new features.
  7. Will the current version of the Audience Development Platform be deactivated as a result?
    Yes, once all of our clients have upgraded, we will be retiring the older version.
Contact us today to learn how to integrate our new tools and look into your website.
Connect Now

5 Ways to Decrease Trolling and Improve the Quality of Comments

Capitalizing on the comment section

With the prevalence of online trolls, some organizations have put up their hands and given up on the comment section. But doing so, even temporarily, has major drawbacks for organizations and their users.

As Carrie Lysenko—the Head of Digital for The Weather Network—pointed out in a recent panel on engagement, turning off comments results in a significant drop in pageviews and attention time. This echoes our findings that brands with commenting can increase pageviews by 248% and attention time by 364%. This increased engagement leads to higher registrations and subscriptions, since engaged users are more likely to pay for premium services.

And while managing online communities has traditionally been cumbersome and expensive, today there are many ways cost-effective ways to reduce or eliminate trolling. This will allow you to not only keep your comment section open, but to capitalize on your user-generated content.


Reward users to promote quality comments

Trusted-user badge
Encourage users to submit thoughtful comments by rewarding your best commenters with a trusted-user badge. With this status, an icon will appear beside the user’s name for others to see. These trusted users are also able to publish their comments in real-time without being moderated.

Editor’s pick
Another way to reward users is by giving their comment the editor’s pick status. These comments can be featured in prominent positions on your website to model the types of comments you want to receive.

This is beneficial for SEO because comments that are placed higher on the webpage get indexed by Google, and the keywords in those comments may be closer matches to users’ search terms than the way a journalist would write.

Create articles from users’ comments
Many organizations today, like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Canadian Broadcasting organization (CBC), are creating stories entirely from their user’s comments. These stories not only reward commenters for their insightful posts, but they are cost-effective and quick to publish, and they receive a surprisingly high amount of attention time and comments. Some even attract more comments than the original piece from which they were taken.

To see the impact of these articles, we tracked the number of comments for eight of the latest user-generated blogs in CBC’s Revenge of the Comment Section vs. the number of comments for their original articles.

The results are depicted in the chart below:

It’s significant to note that while almost all the original stories received more comments, the user-generated articles weren’t far behind. And in one instance, for Story 2, there were more comments for the user-generated article (601,000) than its original article (343,00). Readers also spent more approximately 2.3x more time on the former page.

That’s pretty fascinating since these articles can be created at a huge fraction of the time and cost it takes for a journalist to create a brand new article from scratch.


Offer moderation tools to your users and managers

Allow users to easily flag comments that they find offensive with a noticeable red flag icon. When a comment receives a predetermined amount of flags, it will enter a queue for review with a moderator who will decide the appropriate action.
Timed user banning
Give short “time-outs”—as little as a few hours, days, or months—and notify users on why they are being banned to help them improve the quality of their comments. Alternatively, users can be permanently banned for repeated offenses.
Dislike button
The dislike button will allow users to express their dislike for a comment, without having to flag a comment (which requires a moderator’s time and resources). We found that this button can reduce flagging by 50% in as little as two weeks from its implementation.
Both The New York Times and The Guardian have created games that allow readers to try moderating content. Users are tasked with approving or rejecting comments and providing reasoning for their decisions. This is not only enjoyable for users, but eases some of the burden on moderators.


Use artificial intelligence to eliminate online harassment

Whether your organization employs dedicated moderators or tasks other employees to remove the “trash”, you could be saving countless of hours and dollars with automated moderation.

Automated moderation uses natural-language processing and artificial intelligence to automatically categorize and eliminate trolling, spam and online harassment. This technology is programmed with over 6 million variations of every word, so it’s able to determine the subject matter and the sentiment behind words and phrases written by users.

If the system encounters a new word or sentence that it is unsure of, it flags the instance for a moderator to review. As a moderator approves or rejects new words, through the power of machine learning, the algorithm learns new rules and gets smarter over time.

On average, our studies found that automated moderation has a higher accuracy rate (92%) than human moderation (81%), and it reduces 90% of the time and cost it takes to moderate a community.


Quiz your users

The Norwegian tech news website, NRKbeta, encourages thoughtful comments by asking their readers to prove they read the whole story they will be commenting on by taking a quiz. Their organization believes that their quiz can weed out users who haven’t read the story and it also gives users time to reflect on how they will comment instead of just typing a response to a shocking headline.

Their reporter, Stale Grut, comments, “When a lot of journalists hit ‘publish’ I think that they see themselves finished with a story. But we see that you’re only halfway through with the article when you’ve published it.” Their goal is to improve articles through collaboration.

Many commenters agreed that this tactic would promote insightful comments. Here’s what they had to say:

“I would not object to that if it reduced the uninformed and off-topic as well as useless comments” —Annette

“It WILL raise the discourse, and it will improve the journalism too. And why should some poor intern have to sit and delete all the trash? Let a computer do it.” —Moira


End anonymous commenting

By allowing users to register for your website with one of their social media accounts through social login, users are less likely to post harassing comments because they can easily be identified.

The social login button also generally increases conversion rates by 20% to 40%, and gives you access to their information which can be used to create targeted messaging.

Increased engagement = higher revenue

If you’re committed to improving the quality of interactions on your website, you may find that using moderators alone can be expensive and time consuming.

Luckily, today we can count on technology to encourage quality comments and eliminate the amount of personal attacks.

And by improving the quality of interactions on your site, you can look forward to increased engagement, brand loyalty and lifetime value of customers.

If you’re looking to drive engagement and leverage user-generated content, let’s connect.
Connect Now

Native Push Notifications on macOS for Chrome

Browser-based push notifications, which we released as part of our new audience engagement suite, have proven to be an incredibly powerful new channel for directly communicating with audiences. By allowing you to push important and personalized messages to your audience’s desktops and android devices, even when they are not on your site, you can drive timely and relevant re-engagement.

As of Chrome version 59, released this month, browser-based notifications now use the native notification system in macOS. This provides users with a much more integrated experience for breaking news and other notifications deployed by the Viafoura system.

So what changed?

Prior to version 59, Chrome notifications on macOS used a proprietary format that was entirely separate from the built-in notifications system. This caused user confusion and a broken experience with Chrome notifications behaving and appearing differently from all other system notifications.

With this change, browser-based push notifications will now behave in the following ways:

1They will have the standard notification look and feel, including:
  • The overall size of the notifications are slightly smaller and are styled as standard notifications. As such, the notifications use a smaller square thumbnail that appears to the right of the headline.
  • The Chrome app icon is now present in the notification and appears to the left of the content.

browser-based push notification on macOS for chrome

2They will now be manageable from within the system settings with all other notifications including the ability for users to set the alerts as banners (that appear and then dismiss automatically) or alerts (that stay on the desktop until dismissed manually).

browser-based push notifications manageable from system settings

3They will appear and persist in the macOS notifications tray along with all other notifications until dismissed by the user. Previously, once the notifications timed out and disappeared from the desktop, they could not be retrieved.
browser-based push notification in macOS tray
4They will respect the “Do not disturb” setting at the OS level.
browser-based push notification on macOS with do not disturb notification

What doesn’t change?

The way you deploy browser-based push notifications and opt-ins stays exactly the same, and notifications for Chrome on Windows and Android devices remain unchanged. Notifications for Firefox were already using the system notification system on macOS.

What does this mean for you?

If you are a customer using the Viafoura browser-based notification system, no action is needed. As your audience updates their version of Chrome on macOS, they will automatically switch over to the new version of desktop notifications.

Something to keep in mind though, is the reduced size of the thumbnail image. We recommend using a square thumbnail image to maximize the available space and ensuring the image is one that is attention-grabbing at the small scale.

Want to learn more about push notifications? Connect with us today.
Connect Now

CBC and The Weather Network Discuss Online Commenting

The Importance of Commenting from RTDNA 2017 Conference

In the RTDNA session, Commentary, Commenting and Diversifying Your Voices, our Head of Marketing, Allison Munro, moderated a conversation with news media executives from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and The Weather Network (Pelmorex Media). The two panelists included Jack Nagler, the Director of Journalistic Public Accountability and Engagement at CBC, and Carrie Lysenko, the Head of Digital at Pelmorex Media. Their discussion explored the pros and cons of online commenting and how news media organizations can overcome the challenges.

How Important is Commenting in News Media?

For the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), commenting is not just a value add; it’s critically important for their brand strategy. One of their goals is to provide Canadians with a place to explore their diverse opinions, and commenting supports this vision. Nagler states that commenting has helped them become a better newsroom because their readers improve the stories being told.

At The Weather Network, Lysenko stated that commenting is important because nature-enthusiasts want a forum to share their opinions, photos and videos. Lysenko also noted that when they turned off comments, there was a significant drop in pageviews and attention time.

This echoes our findings that brands with commenting can increase their pageviews by 248% and attention time by 364%. Researchers for the MIT Sloan Management Review also confirm that users’ willingness to pay for subscriptions increases with their growing online social activity.

“Only an engaged user will become a long-term subscriber.”
—Tobias Henning, GM of BILD

A majority of website visitors would also agree that website commenting is valuable. In a recent survey of their audience, CBC found that 70% of respondents said that comments were important to them. Furthermore, they saw that 70% of website visitors spend at least 15% of their time onsite just reading comments.

Using Comments to Create New Stories

CBC receives story tips and article corrections within their comment section from their loyal readers and watchers. Nagler asserts that audience contributions add a lot of value to their articles as they spur further discussions and stories.

He gave an example about an article on a wedding party that fell ill during their stay at a resort. After reading the story, another reader commented that she too got sick at the same place. From there, an investigative story was born, providing valuable information to other travellers.

CBC now takes their top comments and creates stories from them in the Revenge of the Comment Section. As these stories are made from comments, they offer a quick and cost-effective way for publishers to post new content.

Similarly, users share their photos and videos with The Weather Network, which drives further engagement and new content. Lysenko described when The Weather Network connected one of their website contributors to Canada Post to create an official stamp. After viewing the photo he submitted, they made arrangements to create the stamp and tracked his story on their website.

Three SEO Benefits of Online Commenting

User-generated content, such as comments, can be indexed by Google if it’s placed higher on the webpage. For example, editors can choose their favorite comments and place those quotes within the body of an article.

Furthermore, pages with active content updates, such as new comments, can trigger additional reindexing and improve the recency and relevance of the page in search results.

Your audience may also use keywords around a topic that differ from what journalists write, and can provide closer matches to search terms.

The Truth Behind Facebook Commenting

While your Facebook page may be a hotspot for online commenting, it can’t take the place of commenting on your website. And it’s not only because your direct website visitors are more loyal than your Facebook readers, but also because Facebook doesn’t give publishers all their first-party audience data from commenters. (Similarly, Facebook’s free commenting platform for websites also keeps your invaluable data.)

Both CBC and The Weather Network recognize that publishers should focus on getting readers to comment on their websites and collecting their audience data. That doesn’t mean Facebook or its tools shouldn’t be used at all; in fact, Social Login is an extremely valuable tool for news media websites.

When users are able to register for news websites through their social media account, this greatly reduces friction when signing up. It can even increase conversion rates by 20% to 40%. Lysenko adds that if you have the capability to import data from their social account into their user profile on your website, then you’re taking advantage of Facebook login without giving away your data.

“Direct visitors are more loyal than Facebook visitors.”
—Terri Walter, CMO of Chartbeat

Moderation is the #1 Challenge for Community Management

Both panelists say that the greatest challenge to commenting is moderating online discussions in real time. With so many trolls online, moderation is vital for publishers who want to provide a safe space for their users. And according to Engaging News Project, users’ interest in returning to a website almost doubles if they know the discussion will be civil.

CBC found difficulties with both pre-moderation and post-moderation. With the former method, moderators review comments before they get published. But this time-consuming task doesn’t allow for real-time discussions, which are so important for timely news and weather events. With the latter method, users are able to post comments without review, and inappropriate comments only get removed if they are flagged by the community and reviewed by a moderator. While this avenue is much less time-consuming, brands risk having content on their website that doesn’t align with their guidelines.

Like some media companies, CBC has even opted out of commenting altogether on certain stories that may trigger heated arguments. Similarly, The Weather Network chose to disable commenting on stories about climate change, finding too many undesirable comments between advocates and deniers.

Since then, The Weather Network has decided to employ automated moderation to manage their online communities. Automated moderation uses artificial intelligence to automatically detect and delete offensive comments. This allows conversations to unfold in real time while maintaining a brand’s community guidelines.

Human Moderation

Automated Moderation

81% accuracy

92% accuracy

They have also decided to offer self-moderation tools that allow users to personalize their online experience. These include the ability to mute other users and to dislike and flag comments.

Save Time and Resources with Automated Moderation

Website commenting has been an important feature for both the CBC and The Weather Network, helping them increase brand loyalty.

It’s also been invaluable to their audiences, who enjoy reading the comment section and sharing their content with others. However, many users get deterred from engaging on your website if the discussions aren’t civil and respectful.

Automated moderation is the latest solution to this problem, giving media brands a cost-effective way to moderate their communities. Media organizations have also shown that automated moderation drives further engagement, by increasing comments, likes and registered users, while significantly reducing flagging and the time and effort needed by moderators.

Want to know how much you can save with automated moderation?
Try our new ROI calculator today!