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How Automation Adds Value to Sportswriters

By incorporating automated sports content, media companies and sportsbooks can effectively increase the influence and value of human writers.

The more traffic to human-created content, the more valuable it becomes. Most traffic is driven through paid methods (SEM, PPC, sponsored posts) or organic search.

  • PPC adds no incremental value to your website and doesn’t improve the content offering to visitors
  • PPC effectiveness is confined to your budget
  • Organic content can drive potentially unlimited traffic
  • Only pay once for every piece of content marketing

Three Value Pillars of Automation

Automated content is less expensive to produce but can be extremely effective at driving users for three reasons:

  • Speed to publishing – Being the first to publish about a trending topic increases your chances of becoming the de facto authority, thus increasing your exposure and traffic.
  • Search optimized – (This capability exists. If you don’t have this capability then you’re behind) It’s rare, but some automated content providers incorporate SEO best practices into the content creation process.
  • Content Breadth – Unlike human writers, machines can scale content production to address the long tail of trending topics.

Superlatives, Comparatives, Navigational, or Informational

Most sports-related online searches fall into four categories:

  • Superlative: Who was the best college basketball player of the 80’s?
  • Comparative: Which team was better, the 1995 Mariners or 2018 Astros?
  • Navigational: When do the Seattle Storm play at home next?
  • Informational: How many threes did Steph Curry hit in 2019?

Each of these example questions can be answered with automated content because each has a quantifiable response. The best college player of the 80s is answered by creating a weighted ranking system that analyzes historical stats. A similar exercise can be used to compare MLB teams from different eras. And knowing the next time a WNBA team is playing at home is simply a matter of computers knowing the team’s schedule and understanding which city equals home.

Automation and Sportswriting

The best sportswriters offer insights, anecdotes, and interviews impossible to create with machines. They help us understand what drives our favorites athletes. They explain the tribulations faced and conquered by these athletes and share glimpses into their humanity, thus creating bonds between fans and sportsmen/women.

By understanding the way sports fans search about teams, records, athletes, and stats to quell their curiosities, we can start to leverage automation to capture and guide them to the human interest pieces that touch their hearts and minds.

When we search for the best college player in the 80s, the quantitative part of us is simply looking for a name to agree or disagree with. However, the qualitative part of us is looking for the story behind that player’s success. We want to know the “how” and “why” that propelled this player to strive to be the best.

You can probably see the methodology forming. Use algorithms and machines to answer the quantifiable questions of sports fans around the world, then help them understand the why by deep linking automated stories with the human interest pieces created by professional sportswriters. The more traffic flowing through automated content onto human-written articles the better, and here’s why:

  • The additional traffic to human written pieces drives incremental ad revenue
  • The automated content continues to drive visitors indefinitely
  • Over time, content marketing yields a better ROI than PPC

2020 NFL Draft Example

Who wants only to read automated content, void of interviews, and drama? No one.

Who can write an article for every question we want to be answered about the 2020 NFL Draft? No one.

The questions above hint to the future of content creation and perfectly illustrate why HERO Sports took a hybrid approach to producing content for the draft.

The highlighted article in the chart below is the only human-written article on that list. A significant amount of traffic visiting that article originated from automated content. Therefore, by automating data-driven content, HERO Sports drove traffic to human-created articles, essentially making writers more valuable.

FCS Draft Tracker

Content automation is not meant to replace human writers but rather to free them to create compelling human interest pieces instead of data-driven high-volume articles.

Calculators will never replace humans, but they make it easier and faster for us to reach conclusions involving numbers. Content automation works in much the same way.

Compounding Growth

The steady increase in traffic illustrated by the chart below shows the effect of HERO Sports, adding to their daily output of search-optimized content.

Breaking popular news is the fastest method for driving traffic, but only one source can break a story, so the rest of us need another way to generate users. Building a robust inventory of evergreen content creates a predictable baseline of organic traffic.

Draft Day 3

Automation will never develop experiences, perspectives, or memories — the elements that elicit connections between a story and its readers. The purpose of automating content is to unburden creators from being calculators, data scientist, or anything other than insightful writers.

Author avatar
Jordan Nilsen
Jordan is a co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Data Skrive. He's spent the last 15 years in digital marketing and is always willing to debate the merits of the oxford comma.