FML Blog

In touch with innovation: talking to Opinary

Thursday, May 18, 2017      Future Media Lab. team       0

The Future Media Lab. team is continuing our “In touch with innovation” series on our blog with a series of Q&A’s that were conducted with media start-ups from across Europe. In this edition, we spoke with Diana Rus, Publishers Relations UK at Opinary in Germany. Opinary is a venture-backed media start-up that established a new way to make people’s voices heard in online content. Their technology helps publishers and brands to get into conversations with their audiences, listen to their users and build a closer relationships with target groups.

Future Media Lab.: What is the main idea behind your startup?

Diana Rus: Opinary has one goal, really: that of fostering a more fruitful relationship between newsrooms and their users by means of our interactive visual tools that are embedded within articles. These encourage users to communicate their views in a simple, yet powerful way. In other words, our tools create a two way street where the user is not only passively consuming content but actively participating in the debate at hand. As a result, newsrooms can easily:


  • a)Retain and redirect their users attention (i.e driving sign-ups, subscriptions with our post-voting call to action; increase Facebook shares)
  • b)Gain invaluable insights (i.e. how do men vs. women think on subject X, how are opinions shifting from day-to-day)
  • c)Create additional content based on these insights

FMLab.: What observation kicked off your project?

DR: While working for Axel Springer, Opinary’s cofounder, Pia Frey realized how thin was the bond between the newsrooms and their audiences. Comment sections were the exclusive way of gaining insights into users sentiment, yet these were oftentimes completely overlooked. A common phrase Pia heard over and over again was ‘Don’t read the comment sections, just don’t’. This, in turn, sparked the initiative to develop a visually appealing and editorially easy way of engaging users all whilst gaining deeper understanding as to where their opinion resides. The result? Editors are now into direct exchange with hundreds of thousands of users and their quantified opinions!

FMLab.: What is your added value to media companies in content curation/dissemination/monetization?

DR: Opinary is currently working with publishers like Spiegel, Welt, Refinery29, HuffPost, Times, Guardian, Independent and many others. For all of these, Opinary not only makes content less static but also drives important newsroom metrics like: time on page, sharing rates, bounce rates. A study we ran with Huff Post UK, showed that articles that include the Opinary tools, deliver the following results:


  • +22% average engagement rate
  • +33% time spent on page
  • +110% Facebook shares
  • -24% bounce rate

Opinary also touches on content curation given that the insights that publishers have access to via our Insights Dashboard oftentimes constitute the backbone of editorial pieces.

Lastly, by using Opinary, publishers can diversify their revenue streams using our format to display in-content branded questions that are non-invasive, informative and fun to engage in. An example can be seen here.


FMLab.: How (if at all) could established media companies and innovative startups/projects best collaborate over content creation?

DR: Opinary is not only a user-engagement tool but also an insights aggregator and provider. Yet gaining invaluable information as to how users are really thinking requires truly collaborative efforts from both ends. In this sense, understanding audiences, their opinion, the way they reason, the associations they make, isn’t something that Opinary can do self-standing. But it is something that we can do together with media companies that understand that the recipe for success entails two vital parts: our can-do attitude & know-how and the audiences that we can engage and begin to understand better at the same time.

Creating a next generation insights product, requires a substantial quantity of data, that comes by means of engagement with our tools. This, in turn, is a function of how often are users exposed to and incentivized to express their opinion in content. Inadvertently, it all links.

FMLab.: What is your next big challenge/goal?

DR: Creating a next generation Insights Product that will put representative polling into the hands of every journalist in the newsroom. Editors will be able to ask questions that matter to hundreds of thousands of readers across news properties, and for the first time have the ability to receive detailed, statistically meaningful results in real-time. The project will break filter bubbles, change user engagement and data journalism for the better, tangibly cut newsroom costs, and build up a new way for newsrooms to monetize their audiences in a constructive, non-invasive way. This new product will hand the power of knowing what the nation is thinking, analyzed in an empiric fashion, right over to the news ecosystem.


Editor’s note: The Future Media Lab. recently teamed up with Next Media Accelerator to publish a compendium of start-ups from across Europe who are working on solving some of the challenges facing the media sector today, particularly around content creation, monetization, dissemination and curation. Many of the start-ups were present to ‘pitch’ their solutions at the Future Media Lab. annual conference, which took place in Brussels on 2 May 2017.

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