BDB Podcast Episode 27: Extra Extra, Read all about it! Data Analytics is driving growth at the Globe

Co-Host: Cory Minton
Guest: Greg Doufas
“Ink or pixels, journalism doesn’t change.”
In episode 27, the Big Data Beard team sit down with Greg Doufas, CTO of The Globe and Mail, the national Canadian newspaper and a 170 year old media company, to explore how data analytics is being used to enhance customer experiences, drive engagement and fuel growth. Erin K. Banks & Cory Minton dive into the pages of this brilliant company’s history and understand how The Globe and Mail is using analytics to write their future by retaining and capturing new subscribers through their digital transformation.
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Music from this episode is by Andrew Belle.

 

Transcript

Erin Banks:
[0:02] I recently saw his commercial here in the United States and it made this comment about how we used to read physical papers and I realize that newspapers tend to always be the example that we give about physical versus digital we still need the newspapers but we as consumers just want,
better newspapers,
this is one of the many reasons why I’m so happy to have her special guest Greg doufas us with us today so Greg is a CTO of the Globe and Mail which is a newspaper that’s based in Toronto Canada Greg is a background in data analytics and he clearly understands the impact of datum so Greg let me pause because my beard co-host,
Cory Minton I would love for you to introduce yourself to the audience.

Greg Doufas:
[0:44] Hi everyone Greg too fast and then as you said I’m the CTO what the Globe and Mail Canada’s national newspaper and the globe has been around for a hundred and seventy years which is a little known fact,
known well across across our beautiful country here in Canada my background is in computer science and data science at work in telecommunications and high-tech and die,
this adventure about 5 years ago joining the globe to sort of launch their data analytics data science capability and that turned out pretty well so they kept giving me more stuff to do and.
And here I am today sort of holding you don’t want to go whole bag when it comes to technology and data and older,
pretty amazing remarkable things that we do with technology.
At the globe in any Media company in the in the year 2018 will tell you that we we do a lot more.
With the with computer science user experience and. And frankly finding ways to take the Internet seriously to to do we do as a as a media organization.

Erin Banks:
[1:50] That’s awesome so some companies in this digital age are redefining themselves or giving them these like new descriptor is right so does the Globe and Mail identify itself as a newspaper or like buy something else.

Greg Doufas:
[2:02] Yeah I mean what will always be newspaper that that beautiful printed product in anybody that sees the globe Mills newspaper with something that we’re really proud of it’ll always,
Crown Jewel it still makes a lot of money so we’ll always be at Hardy a newspaper company but,
like most organizations like most of our sort of contemporaries The Washington Post New York Times there in the states we we are a media company we’re changing it,
audio it’s there visuals there’s a design actually mean something we,
surface are content to multiple ways and responsive Web format so it is that it is truly a media company visuals and sound and and and video and all those and all those things that come with what you need to do to be able to tell stories.

Erin Banks:
[2:47] Yeah that’s awesome so you know my next question was obviously in this digital age your organization has been impacted right but not only is it are you seeing people read less papers or you see more viewers now that you have these different formats or how’s that working.

Greg Doufas:
[3:01] 12 absolutely I mean there will always be there there has been and will probably continue be for a little bit to a decline in newspaper readership but it’s it’s still holding pretty strong and there’s many of us to think that that might actually,
it might be something that people just can’t you know there’s something really habitual about that.
That newspaper sort of lean back experience people spend on average about 45 minutes a day with a physical used,
bring you don’t get even close to that in digital platforms but are reaching our readership from a digital,
active is massive in something that obviously we were not even close to from a printed perspective soap.
Again what’s what stays true to the heart of what we do is the journalism,
its investigative journalism it’s business and investing journalism again to Globe is a is a very prominent and walrus,
I could Brandon Canada I also would research so I will never stop being amazed and fascinated by.
The year the customer satisfaction and Trust scores that we get in all of our and all of our custom,
customer survey so that that’s what it applies across platforms whether it’s on anchor pixels or our audience does love our brand and we need to be where they are so they can the journalism doesn’t change we need to surface it,
but lifting surfaced across multiple platforms now and then obviously digital is where the growth is.

Erin Banks:
[4:25] Right so what were what was like one of the reasons why did and Alex became such a large part of the Globe and Mail.

Greg Doufas:
[4:32] Yeah I think about how does a how does a newspaper how does a media company,
make money our business model was pretty simple that has being for a rag and a hundred and seventy years we produced this news,
we sell it to people and sometimes we don’t even sell to be we just wanted to get into people’s hands,
because we also make revenue and generate Revenue through advertising so we tell her advertisers hey this is a great platform for you to advertise on we have a high-quality audience these,
people are influencers in leaders of today Leaders of Tomorrow which is the globe.
Readership so if you pay his money and you put an ad on her paper it’s going to get to the most influential people in the country that’s always the way it’s being on print and it hasn’t really changed that much even though the platforms of evolved from a digital,
obviously digital advertising is is not nearly as lucrative as is what it has been on Prince so subscription revenue is a key driver and frankly the the,
core to our business model from a from a digital perspective but that’s 45 minutes a day that you would be getting in print,
you’re lucky to get you know 5 to 10 minutes in some cases in digital so,
how do you do that you need to understand what drives engagement what it is those moments of delight like what is that what does it take to get.
People to spend a little bit more time on their phone on a tablet on a desk,
computer at web versus apps there is so much data so unlike what it used to be back in the days where the newspaper was the.

[6:05] Was the sole sort of Marquee product you do some research and you would look at that maybe every 6 months or every year you go out and do some brain research and it would end up in a and a glossy PowerPoint deck and you would learn a little bit about your audience in.
And I’ll make some adjustments along the way in the digital environment you need to do that,
prickly sow on a on a real-time basis where analyzing customer information where analyzing engagement loyalty what does it take what are people interested in what’s working what isn’t and we need to adapt quickly in real time,
so it’s a it’s all the stuff that we we always knew we needed to care about in terms of that.
That sort of audience that Community interaction with what we do with our journalism but it’s on steroids.

Erin Banks:
[6:48] Yes so I was just interested though sorry about the real-time aspect because I keep thinking like sometimes when I look at newspapers online.
They sometimes will give you like a free preview or the let you read the article in the only let you were like 5 articles it’s a month or something along those lines do you have like a model like that and obviously,
your assumption is that they’re going to keep coming back and then want to buy a subscription or something along those lines.

Greg Doufas:
[7:14] That’s absolutely right so we have a bit much like the Washington Post and then York Times or sort of the best examples out there.
Popular examples we do ever pay while so we meet her our pay while and we have different rules and there’s a great example for how we use data in the power of data signs we know exactly what,
what sorts of content is more likely to drive more engagement and then frankly a higher propensity to purchase of subscription so our model is highly flexible and dynamic on averaged about 5 articles,
per month is what we allow but we also have the concept of subscriber-only content so,
while some articles you read will sort of add to that meter and once you hit 5 will give you a very specific very tailored offer based on your reading habits that we’ve been that we’ve been analyzing and tracking in responding to in real time we also use that data so that in real time as content is,
published there there’s some physical and there are so valuable in our eyes and to our audiences eyes that we lock that down,
completely so even if you haven’t read a single article this month at the Globe and Mail if you visit our website there are some articles that have a little key next to it and you can’t read it at all without buying subscription,
and we know exactly how to sort of push and pull those levers how much is too much and what are the right articles to sort of,
behind that subscriber-only lockbox we use data and analytics we understand audience interaction and how much they value that content to make those decisions.

Cory Minton:
[8:43] So it’s interesting because you’re you’re using it’s your Revenue model drivers advertising I get in the right person to see the right thing at the right time so that your advertisers want to spend more money which I think we were all at w Facebook invented that process so that’s kind of interesting,
4 News newspapers that did the digital natives I thought it was Facebook couldn’t Zuckerberg the figure that out first.
But one thing I find interesting though is that you said that the weather anchor pixels the journalism doesn’t change and.
What I’m curious about is the date in Linux that you’re talking about using you know the,
the customer interaction of your user interaction how do you marry that with like workflow or like the process of actually understanding like what is that,
like what is value on how do you measure what’s valuable in terms of the content your building cuz journalism’s all the same with your printer you digitize in it but your ability to flex and put it in the right place at the right time.
Is clearly different by format.

Greg Doufas:
[9:40] Yeah absolutely the you know it’s it’s interested for a technologist like me or in this conversation with with with,
if people like yourselves you may be surprised and hearing somebody like me say at the end of the day I understand and I believe that.
People aren’t our readers aren’t purchasing subscriptions in keeping those subscriptions because we have a beautiful user experience or beautiful designs or fantastic data science they’re buying it because of the journalism that is what,
people want to pay for but,
they will leave you or they will judge you harshly when it comes to taking account for that subscription,
if the experience if it right.
So what we do is we look at all the attractions that are audience has with our product again in real-time but also historically to make decisions on what we did work and works and what we did that has,
so at any given point in time on the Globe and Mail and you mention Facebook and they’re pretty famous for the stew and then given time as you visit the Globe and Mail there could be hundreds of experiments running on our site.
Whether it’s a b experiments or multivariate experiments,
always running experiments were trying to understand what works what doesn’t and we quickly react to the success or failure of those experiments,
so that we can keep doing the things that are working obviously and stop doing the things that are feeling so we can feel really really quickly and that way you learn a lot and that muscle memory bills over time.

Cory Minton:
[11:08] So I guess I’m curious I like in the newspaper business where you at were newspapers doing a b were they doing testing like that before or is it really this new digital landscape disempower dusted like play those games that they decide this love to play.

Greg Doufas:
[11:23] Yeah it’s a great question in the truly a digital is allowed us to do this let’s face it but we can we can watch those people vote with their clicks without knowing that their voting based on their interactions and that’s why whenever I talk to either,
either any of our large advertisers or or any of our contemporaries in the industry when we sort of share stories that the reality is the analogy that I used a little while ago around you know,
I can leave in the soul soul ePrint days pre-digital all you had was research I mean you would do the typical focus groups or you would,
people with surveys and you would sort of compile that data and information and then maybe after a few weeks you.
Look at things in an aggregate form to sort of see what’s working and then if you want to make an adjustment if you want to redesign the paper anything from the color the shape of the font of that,
you would do that in that would take a few months so the Cadence the Cadence of those experiments and they were experimenting yet,
decadence of the experiments would take months and then of course in order to see did you actually have an effect on your bottom line on customer satisfaction and read her behavior well then you would wait another few months to do that research all over again,
so what an amazing thing it is in a digital environment to be able to wake up in the morning,
walking to work is our data scientist in our ux designers do and think you know what I think that I think that are images are little thumbnail images and certain article Pages they’re too small what would happen if we made in a little bit bigger.

[12:54] What would happen if we had a little bit of weight and texture down that page is,
people scroll on their mobile phones when we get people to stay a little bit longer would they finish that article so we can think of the experiment launched experiment and analyze the results of experiments sometimes within hours.

Erin Banks:
[13:10] So you definitely the experiments are based on their device that they’re using right so obviously a phone’s going to be smaller than you know a tablet or laptop or something along those lines so how are you testing those.

Greg Doufas:
[13:23] Yeah so what you know at the heart of every experiment if you were to walk into our user experience lab it’s a really creative fun place where it’s it’s it’s it’s.
You know it’s nothing but about white boards and ideas and things that we tracked the first thing that we talked about is what is the outcome we’re trying to achieve.
So there could be multiple ones are again we have a hybrid business model we want to sell ads obviously and make the most effective we also want to sell subscription will our advertising clients love time.
So the amount of time that people are spending on a page that has an ad on it is of more value so when experiments outcome could be on a mobile phone on a certain article page will we have this.
Beautiful premium at spot what we want to design an experiment to optimize for is time spent.
And we will count every second every millisecond of time spent on that page so that’s what we’re optimizing for.
And then we just brainstorm we hypothesize what are the things that we think could drive that outcome another Pages perhaps even on other devices like,
which tends to drive more subscription sort of activity or events we went up to -4 subscription so what is it that we could do on those pages are in those experiences to do optimize and drive for that outcome.
So again if you were to sit and argue waxlab and watch the data scientist ux designers in our digital developers think the first thing that they want to itemize the first thing that score to all of the hypothesis and experiment they run is the outcome.
Business outcomes that we’re trying to optimize for that’s the first thing and then you can be as creative as you want to to think of ways to want to get there.

Cory Minton:
[15:00] So I’m curious because it sounds like one sounds like a super cool environment but it sounds like you’re dealing with a.

[15:07] A deluge of options in a in a mountain of data that either you’re getting on you know the interactions cross-device cross-platform it’s it seems really really big.
And one of the things that when we talk about when we talk to other practitioners.

[15:24] That are solving and dealing with these these big challenges is there were certain to see organizations adopt.
Yeah machine learning capabilities to automate.

[15:34] Some of those problem testing scenarios and the you know identifying what the right next thing to try is is that any that you guys started looking at ways to automate in Leverage.
You know mother’s machine learning technology or if you want to use the artificial intelligence technology to to expedite some of that that’s search are some of that that ability for your creative teams to.
Instead of having to run every experiment start to evaluate how experienced Mike model out.

Greg Doufas:
[16:02] Yeah absolutely it’s funny in in my career I really never thought I would I’d be in a position were working in a media organization or a,
what used to be in historically been in use paper where we would be about as Cutting Edge as anything I’ve ever done in high-tech and Communications and mobile technology where we had we had some pretty pretty impressive teams there as well so think about recommendation engines,
we know when you visit our site we can.
Green obviously we will track behavior and track usage from months at an individual level and we know exactly what you’re looking at we know exactly what your interests are how much time you spent so not just,
the things that you’ve clicked on but how Hunger Games were you on those things and we have a very robust and very advanced.
Big Data environment the cloud environment were not only can we track those things and look at the Miss dorkly and apply them to our experiments,
but we can actually react and act on those things so real exciting for,
people like me we’re all you really ever ever want to do in your career as a technologist is change the product can I actually influence the design of the product.
Based on on data and insight not just got an intuition and so what we’re able to do is apply apply those practices to the actual product itself.
So again you’re on a device you’re reading an article page at the bottom of the article you’ll see a section called Next story will all three of us will have different next story elements or links.

[17:36] Within our experience because our real-time algorithms are processing each of our,
certified Behavior stack and then applying recommendations content recommendations to our experiences individually so you’re absolutely right.
What began is an egg B experiment a couple of years ago hey,
you know at the bottom of the page if we actually offer somebody some really popular relevant links and everyone would get the same but they were different than random links being applied to all of us we actually saw some listing that engagements and then,
I’ll cut to the Chase and say that evolve to the point that we said what if the machine did that thinking forest and what if every one of our seven and a half eight million unique visitors per month saw different recommendations so that’s just one example.
A large when I went to 80% of our section pages in article pages about 80% of them are actually machine-generated machine curated and we leave the hand curation the Craftsman,
sort of curation to the homepage and a couple of other major section front and that’s where the toriel teams will make their own sort of,
spoke decisions around how to design in curate those pages.

Erin Banks:
[18:48] Yes so I was just curious.
Cuz you’re obviously there’s been so much has been going on in the since you’ve been there right 5 years and certainly with regard data analytics how has the org changed at all,
from the aspect and have you like added,
additional Rolex men’s we talked about like a chief data officer have you added Like rules like that because now that you’re more focused from a data perspective has that changed the or as a whole.

Greg Doufas:
[19:13] Fundamentally none of the things that I’ve just described existed five years ago when I joined that’s why the heart,
so I joined as the Director of data science and things worked out really well this technology this the concepts around experimentation the idea that we can collect the state of instrument all of our experiences to be able to listen,
and collect all of this all of these events and then process that and think really creatively about what could we do with this in a passive way and then evolve that into what what could we do with this in an active way so not just,
look at it in spreadsheets or build sort of predictive models that will tell us things about what drives a subscription event or what.
Drives more time but then actually you know apply that learning into the device in the experience at the same time all of those things really represent in evolution and funny you say.
The end of the subsequent role that I had within the organization was the chief data officer so I can a lot of credit to our publisher and CEO into our own board,
for for believing so much in the value of what we were doing on the data side that is I sort of involved in my career started progressing the organization that the battle of the big fancy seating chart that I had before,
Chief technology officer was Chief data officer it was that important technology was almost like yeah why don’t you do the rest of that stuff too.

Cory Minton:
[20:41] So in the rest of the stuff is the is the data science team being tasked with the using machine learning an automated or artificial intelligence to start to create content.

Greg Doufas:
[20:51] Isn’t that swell yeah I mean to create the experience so think about.

Cory Minton:
[20:55] Nami like writing journalism.

Greg Doufas:
[20:58] Yeah I know that could be it would be an interesting experiment to run for sure,
they work hand-in-hand with our developers we have an amazing very very talented team of front-end web developers a fantastic user experience design team I mean I think about life,
brain right brain right watching the data science team work with a design team naturally these people are almost complete opposites but hearing them talk,
you you would almost have a hard time guessing what role any one person had on those teams,
because the ux designers think in terms of you know statistical significance with the experiments that they’re running in the data science team is always thinking very creatively about well what could I do with this algorithm or what can I do with this sort of this,
deep learning technique that I just learned that might help us you know if all of the experience so they all work really really closely together in there very few boundaries anymore I think on the.

Cory Minton:
[21:57] So that’s interesting the inter team thing is is something we here practitioners talked about a lot that’s one of the biggest challenges with.
You know they decide to say you know hey it’s it’s important but in the same business business folks and we wish we knew more about decides it sounds like you’ve done something really special there some specific.
Methodology or process that you followed that has has fostered such a.

[22:20] A healthy interaction would like you said this chameleon where it’s hard to tell the teams apart is that.
How do you create something like that what advice would you give for practitioners trying to achieve something similar in terms of getting those.

[22:32] To like you said life or right left and right brained very distinct team types to work together over your best advice.

Greg Doufas:
[22:38] Well I buy a few things first of all I mean we I keep using the term evolution and. I don’t think I’m over using it it really wasn’t Evolution we we hired new people I mean the people that,
the people that we hire and when we look to attract hell we want curiosity above all and so a lot of the things come naturally when you have that core,
principle where that course would have belief that that I need to be it’s an expectation.
Within the job to be curious and so they’ll always want to reach out the other thing Which Wich in a lifetime of a sort of data science,
experience professionally you got to show them what it means so one of the first things that we did as we were building the data science team was Dee really really,
tactical so yes somebody like me wants to get right into these sort of algorithmic.
Sort of exciting work that you can do with large data sets that are coming at you and start about High Velocity in real time like it’s really exciting to get into that stuff but you know why you got to work,
at the fact that this is an organization that still learning how to count really well.
So you have to deal with that disses that you know we needed to figure out a way yeah I mean you need to figure out a way to explain to people exactly what our readers are doing and what it matters and you know why it matters and so that was his that was as important as anything you got to take,
the right steps in the beginning.

[24:10] To show people really what it means to them and a third thing which by the way we sometimes forget but frankly maybe one of the most important things especially when it comes to the entry team sorticulture that we build,
literally where they sit and where they work we made these people sit next to each other we put them in the same space and it was a very creative space so we have,
we have some really cool we we we we working this beautiful new building the Globe and Mail Center we have an event space upstairs,
beautiful view of the city and that we specifically bought furniture that you could literally right on and then erase with a dry marker so we want people to write on the walls we want people and everything can be erased so it’s not like we’re it’s not like before her building graffiti but,
we wanted it to be a place that you couldn’t do anything where you can’t break a thing here break anything you want,
and so that really help people get out of their shells and it’s amazing what happens when when people spend some time close proximity.

Erin Banks:
[25:07] So now that you made all these changes which I’m pretty sure I would like to apply for a job.

[25:13] So have you seen like any changes like now it’s been 5 years you really proven a lot you’ve shown does impact you build out this really great team even showing how you’re working.
Has an effect on things has Dental exchange other parts of the company.

Greg Doufas:
[25:30] Yeah I mean theater so one of the things you know again I worked in I worked at Blackberry for many years and other proud Canyon company back in the,
good old days and I remember being there and in again very similar sort of role we had access to all this data massive amounts of data.
You know what we want to do is is great great Insight from it but also then apply that data into the divided into the experience and the product itself and I remember,
people warning me and my first few weeks that boy those product Engineers those guys are you know the,
these men and women were really tough like you better bring your A-game at 8 because they won’t change what they do no matter how great your data is that is what they do and it’s really hard to penetrate,
and we did it in and we ended up cracking it well that was nothing compared to working with journalist,
people are naturally curious there naturally cautious sometimes borderline cynical I mean think of what they do for a living there interrogating everything they’re suspicious of everything they’re getting to the bottom of the story like,
a journalist never wants to bury the lead and never trust anything they’re verifying and looking at multiple sources they’re getting to the story behind the story behind the store so imagine working in joining an organization where these are the,
people I’m trying to influence so that was that was a big challenge but it’s amazing what a few cup.

[27:01] The coffee gets you learning their world and understanding what it means to copy at it and what it means to be running on a deadline or how difficult it is to sort of get a scoop I mean,
really showing some some curiosity and passion for what they do,
winter really long way and then guess what when you’re able to demonstrate hey you know I can tell you some things about the people that are reading your stories,
wouldn’t want to know right like who doesn’t have a a.
Essential Professional Pride of course they want to know of course they want to know who is reading my story and what makes them tick and what did they really like then it actually became easy and but what am I,
I’m literally my best friend within your organization is the editor-in-chief weed they David Walmsley and I have a fantastic relationship and it’s and it’s really built on trust.

Cory Minton:
[27:49] So wanted one things it’s funny you said you know you could.

[27:52] You can provide that feedback to the journalist about Their audience in about you know kind of what their consumption is and and hopefully help them.

[28:00] Learn something from Their audience on their perceptions on what they want to read but one thing that we see a lot now is.
This concept of a fake news or kind of these bloviator stories were journalistic Integrity is falling down eyes are things you’re doing in technology to help protect.

[28:16] The journalistic integrity and help protect and make sure that your content is is is except hole in his is presented as intended is that a value or is that something that Technologies working to provide back to nose during what.

Greg Doufas:
[28:29] Yes I mean absolutely so when you think of I mentioned that this fantastic research that you ever really want to feel good about yourself.
at work at the Globe and Mail you just read some of the the reader satisfaction and Affinity scores that we get in the number one attribute not just for us but for any media brand for any media brand the number one attribute the readers looking for when they choose their media.
Soda provider is trust trust,
are you well written is there Integrity behind the brand are the journalistic standards High that’s what,
people are looking for it’s amazing what’s happened over the last couple of years with those sort of the proliferation of fake news and thoughts and all the crazy things that are happening on the social networks more and more,
people are turning back to those,
Branson of course there’s always sort of you know some degree of of bias natural buys that somebody will say or we’ll see when they compare,
you know that you are kind to The Washington Post to CNN to Fox News there’s always a bit of a of a slanted that people were perceived,
at the end of the day I think it’s those two old newspaper,
newspaper brands are really making a comeback and and ours is definitely one of them one of the things that,
at The Newsroom cares about most is knowing you know,
how do we how do we appropriately identify and present our mix of content in the way so that it,
that sort of trust factor that brand Factor shines especially on things like our homepage so those things are are taking very very seriously how we.

[30:08] How we integrate our platform are content into search engines and social media all of those things are applied so how we deal with metadata around a story so that it’s.
You know.
Found an indexed in a Google Search and even back to break down to the journal so one of the things that we do to treasure question really specifically is highlights.
The journalist.
So these people are are are people that have dedicated their lives to journalism and so yeah there is something to be said I think it’s amazing that anyone in their own.
Basement or in their own kitchen can create content and publish it and tell their own stories that then that’s an amazing thing that’s the story of the internet,
the end of the day the journalist that work at these newspapers has actually dedicated their lives to this craft and there is something to be said about the profession.
And the integrity and what it takes to really chase the lead and tell a story and to be able to stand behind the truth behind that story and so letting the journalist shine in the content and letting people at certificate,
floor fool are our personalities are who these journalists are is actually behnke.

Erin Banks:
[31:18] So I was curious though.
You know looking into the future you’ve done so much in the past 5 years where what are you planning for the next five years with you learned so much from the data you’ve learned you filled out an amazing team and amazing office you know these amazing keep abilities how do you continue to sustain that and support that,
and new achieve even greater growth within the next 5 years.

Greg Doufas:
[31:39] Yeah I think I think there’s a couple of things that I I suspect every media organization will be chasing so as much of it as a Visionary like to I’d like to think of myself this is I think any CTO worth their salt in this industry is going to be thinking about two things first is sort of data-driven,
content in some cases it could just be it’s good old-fashioned vesicated journalism but backed up through bye-bye-bye data.
So data data science and journalism together you can tell stories with data and Anna find a way to sort of,
present something really really meaningful to your Audience by by sort of combining the two and the Other Extreme two that could be data is the story so our readers love love alert,
so if you want if you have apps on your mobile phone and you sort of agree to let let the the news provider send you an alert a lot of our readers say that they love them and if you do that right you can’t even date,
people with alerts Muse flashes in use alerts but if you do it right people really find them engaging well how about I think the future will be,
the alerts will be very custom to you so not just you know what yeah let me know when there’s a big bean.
There’s a tsunami somewhere in the world and I’d like to know about it how about something really really specific to what your interests are or what you care about or could be something very local to your neighborhood that you’re most interested in or maybe it’s something halfway around the world that you are most interested in I think that.

[33:09] DVD customisation and personalization of muse delivery to you will become key and then the the second thing which is a big.
Passion of mine and I honestly believe this is this is the future for for media and journalism is.
You know we talked about content recommendations and all of us getting different sort of list of content that are being sort of apply to experience I think the future is the actual experience itself will,
the different for all of us so you know you like lots of pictures and images in the homepage or the screen.
And somebody else might actually love you know what forget the images I just want a bunch of links I,
plain vanilla kind of guy I just want to see a bunch of links and I’ll click on the one I want spare me,
all the razzle-dazzle some people might like to read stories by swiping to the left some people might.
Do we not swiping to the right or up or down if we know how,
people most engaging are are are most likely to engage with that you could actually apply that algorithmically within the experience so there you have it I think in 5 years if if we’re lucky,
that’s where that’s where we’ll be I will be making some inroads.

Cory Minton:
[34:24] I can tell you which ones I want to swipe it’s the alternator users will want to swipe on your honey.

[34:31] So I so I so appreciate the Insight on the the media trends one of things I wanted to pick your brain out because as a practitioner in the data space and is a CTO you know our audience oftentimes wants to hear from folks about.
Where do you.
Keep it like how do you keep yourself up to speed on technology what are the places where you’re going to learn about these next Generation Technologies and capabilities not just for your industry but didn’t in general for technology what are your best sources for.
For your own personal development education.

Greg Doufas:
[35:03] It’s it’s funny you should say that unfortunately I am going to cheat and bring it back to the industry the the reality show,
My Heroes mine somebody that I’ve idolized since I was.
Young guy coming out of school was Jeff Bezos he was someone that,
that I thought I wanted to be and I and I admired him from afar and and then I had to run optitude for this for this.
This line of work and I pursued it through sort of all sorts of fantastic large,
big again telecommunications mobile technology companies and then I come to a newspaper Media company and I thought well this is an interesting experiment,
then Jeff Bezos buys the Washington Post.
And he he I he brings all of the Jeff Bezos sort of philosophy to The Washington Post he tells them to build software,
Bill systems that you use to sort of workflow and create sort of the content in the experiences the they called the content management system everyone has one and everyone hates it and so when he bought the post she actually challenge that our technology team once you build your own,
and then. And then that work really well they called it Ark and they paid great job they hired hundreds of Engineers to build it and then we came along and they were thinking about selling.
This side this platform potentially taking it to Market and what better organization what better country to sort of maybe pilot this and so we bought our,
and we are partners with the Washington Post and so when I take a trip which I’m going to be taking next week to see my colleagues at the Washington Post I get access to all of this great thinking and really advanced.

[36:42] Sort of a philosophical approach that mr. Bezos has brought to that organization from the CTO on down who’s become a very good friend of mine so.
I really look forward to trips to DC it’s a place that’s really exciting the posts that is a really exciting place to be and there you can’t name a cutting-edge buzzword that they aren’t experimenting what the weather is VR,
whether it’s data-driven journalism.
Audio video they’re doing podcast they’re doing really really Advance things with data science and his influence mr. business influences all over the organization so how ironic that it’s in the news,
that I now have a certain degree of access to that philosophy into the person that I’ve always idolized so it’s a really exciting place to be and those cats are are really really cutting edge in so I’m,
take me to the post is a pretty exciting place for any technologist.

Erin Banks:
[37:36] Yeah that’s cool and it’s but I think it’s interesting you had talked a little bit about like Partnerships are there any like non-traditional Partnerships that you have with the Union’s the Globe and Mail has with other companies.

Greg Doufas:
[37:46] Yeah so obviously the Washington Post and all the great things that they do,
and are other major partner and died in some cases for buying necessity but in many cases I think that were worried about his cutting-edge on the platform is is anyone else’s Amazon.
So obviously were or maybe not obviously it’s the for us we’ve chosen Amazon cloud services as the platform,
for all of our data science infrastructure and frankly a lot of our infrastructure the ark content management system that I speak of wall of course,
that sits on Amazon so we work pretty closely with them to make sure that we have access to all sort of the latest techniques whether it’s being facial recognition or,
speech to text or text to speech frankly all of those things are very very meaningful to us and so it’s pretty exciting where,
always at the Forefront of all the Cutting Edge sort of machine learning machine generated ways to either understand content or creative.

Erin Banks:
[38:45] You know to come a little off topic a little bit one of the things that I always love to know we was out here like great stories and how successful you’ve been in everything what are some of the mistakes that you’ve learned that you think that are important for the audience to understand.

Greg Doufas:
[38:59] That’s a great question if there is such a thing as tools overload it so I join them I join the Globe and Mail.
5 years ago and here I am thinking while I’m going to I’m going to really change this place these people are probably they probably have no idea how to use data or information and it’s going to be easy,
I’m in introduce whole bunch of things and yeah those being of the challenge will be how do you get people to sort of adopted and I was shocked within the first week as ice would have looked at what,
people were doing it was quite the opposite,
there there too many tools I mean that website was tagged with with maybe five or six different tools there’s there’s Adobe products and in Google products and all sorts of other products and Brands I won’t mention but literally anyone in the,
in the in the business from The Newsroom to finance to marketing they had access and we’re potentially using five different tools all to sort of,
tell them the same sorts of things about how many people were reading and at what time and what content so.
That that is that can sometimes be a very attractive thing the cost of Entry is very easy loading up your website,
where your product for lack of a better term in instrumenting it with all of the sort of data tagging software that gives you all of this real-time insight,
quote on quote it’s a it’s something that a lot of people get get sucked into the brochure is always really really attract,
sew-in weave wig made the same mistakes along the way but as we sort of right size the degree of that sort of.

[40:36] Cooling that we’ve done on our site we’ve often double-dipped ourselves and tried maybe too many.
Ways are too many tools software packages to get to the core data that we really really wanted.

Erin Banks:
[40:50] That’s interesting so but thank you so much your time were actually at 40 minutes and we don’t want to keep it there too long because we have to get to,
one of my favorite Parts is the the rapid fire that we have so is there before we even start that I don’t want to like leave it without you know is there any last thoughts or comments that you wanted to make that.
Didn’t have time to mention.

Greg Doufas:
[41:12] No no I’m bummed I am so excited about the Rapid Fire part of this conversation.

Erin Banks:
[41:16] You’re so sweet nobody.

Cory Minton:
[41:21] Yeah you’re really should you really showing your Canadian right now I’m just going to be honest.

Erin Banks:
[41:25] We were going to come through as like a drum roll let’s see what he can answer so the first question is what year will Skynet go online.

Greg Doufas:
[41:36] Skynet will Skynet will I don’t believe Skynet will go online so how about my answer is infinity it’s not going to have.

Erin Banks:
[41:46] See that’s that’s what I think that’s.

Cory Minton:
[41:47] Yeah that makes me feel better and I talked to a few date of science focused people and then some people have like this definitive like bits 20-30 like it’s definitely happening then and then love you.

Greg Doufas:
[41:59] Yeah I mean the news today depending on how these that your podcast is time-stamped have a TV in front of you and watching mr. Zuckerberg on.
Trial Fielding questions I think I think I think,
people are are are are far more exposed to what this sort of the very inside baseball World of data science is starting to become more more I think that’s a good thing I think more more,
people will be more more careful about where technology goes in in the dangers and pitfalls of it fit any smart technology any Evolution pics.

Erin Banks:
[42:37] Niagara now I’m with you on that one so what was the last book that you read.

Greg Doufas:
[42:43] Oh I’m fantastic,
just a summer on a vacation in Florida I read a book called Annihilation science fiction a pretty fantastic they just made a movie out of it that was on also,
pretty great and it was it was my kind of thing annihilation.

Erin Banks:
[43:03] Will you Google that and tell me what it is what it is chorus.

Cory Minton:
[43:08] I’m trying to look it up immediately I’m like a nihilation it sounds amazing in there by the way that was work that out podcast published With A banks snort.

Erin Banks:
[43:17] It’s a good day finally so Greg what’s the genre of music that you’re rocking to now.

Greg Doufas:
[43:25] Oh that’s a great question I am I love,
music and I love all of it I am into right now very I’ll get very specific that’s the quickest but I am into a alternative British Rock.
I’ve always been a big Radiohead fan and I’m listening to a lot of Radiohead these days.

Cory Minton:
[43:48] Sweet the joy.

Greg Doufas:
[43:49] Although there although there’s a there’s an artist that I just saw that I’m quite familiar with in his name is Sturgill Simpson.

Cory Minton:
[43:57] Oh you’re speaking my love language.

Greg Doufas:
[43:58] I Sturgill Simpson is got it going on Sturgill Simpson is an exciting guy to watch he I’ve seen him perform as well and that guy yeah that it that yeah there you go genres.

Cory Minton:
[44:10] Every every every time my wife and I get in the car on a long road trip with the kids we put on Sturgill Simpson long white line.

Greg Doufas:
[44:17] Exactly right yeah.

Cory Minton:
[44:19] That’s a good too and that’s like though it’s like the Willie Nelson the margin ratio that’s incredible.

Greg Doufas:
[44:22] That’s right it from Radiohead to Sturgill Simpson there you go I’m going to collect a guy.

Erin Banks:
[44:27] That’s nice so what’s a piece of technology that’s making your life worse.

Greg Doufas:
[44:32] My I should be careful and things considering.
My business but my my mobile phone I I’m I’m someone that is it is quite attached to it and again it’s a part of the.
Part of my job but yeah I’m I’m monitoring the slack channels and all of our.
Development releases and code releases and an SOS channels for when things go wrong in production I run I run a business that said 24/7 operation so as a CT show that cell phone is not as fun as it used to be.

Erin Banks:
[45:08] I can imagine I do love slack that I must have meant yeah.

Greg Doufas:
[45:11] Flag of cool Canadian company of course.

Erin Banks:
[45:15] Yeah yeah.

Cory Minton:
[45:18] They just said I apologize after every message I send its incredible.

Erin Banks:
[45:21] You’re so nice though so what’s your biggest Money Pit right now.

Greg Doufas:
[45:28] Biggest Money Pit oh that’s interesting probably my car I’m a I’m a car guy and I own a pretty cool sports car but.

Cory Minton:
[45:38] Don’t let you got it done taxes for me I’ma I’ma I’ma Gearhead come on let’s do this.

Greg Doufas:
[45:42] So I own a 2017 Mercedes C63 AMG.

Cory Minton:
[45:49] Oh yeah buddy.

Greg Doufas:
[45:50] It’s a modern-day Absol it’s a modern-day muscle car the thing sounds like a like a pack of,
bears bite to eat it likes its premium fuel and and any service will cost you about a hundred times more than what my Jeep used to cost me so so there you go but it’s a Happy Money Pit I unhappy for the money.

Cory Minton:
[46:11] So are you so are you and how do you taking it out on a track to really Let it Loose yet or.

Greg Doufas:
[46:16] Not yet like I picked it up last summer and so this will now that we’re past sort of a pretty frankly pretty mild Canadian winter I think that’ll let her out.

Cory Minton:
[46:25] Oh yeah do it while you’re you’ll find out the the other expensive thing with those big boys have bought Tires and Brakes.

Greg Doufas:
[46:31] Yeah yeah oh yes oh yeah.

Cory Minton:
[46:32] The brakes are the first things.
The C63 is like a modern muscle car in the sense that it is tons of power but getting that big girl to slow down and go through a corner can be a little bit interesting.

Greg Doufas:
[46:41] Absolutely absolutely.

Erin Banks:
[46:43] It’s funny cuz I just bought a.

[46:46] Sports car like last July and I used to have a Jeep so it was funny I would always drive the Jeep because I I do want to put the miles on the sports car and it what’s your point was so expensive the gas is so much more expensive.
I could be the GD up and I just moved and I had to sell the Jeep so it’s been kind of like sad and now I’m putting always miles on the sports car.

Greg Doufas:
[47:07] Well I’ll make you feel bad I got to keep the Jeep so I have the best of both worlds if I if I want to run over some curbs and not care what what I’m doing in a parking lot I can take the Jeep.

Cory Minton:
[47:17] See my car’s gone ridiculous it’s actually get in a full roll cage and it said all the interior of Doubt of it yeah it’s going full track car it’s little.

Greg Doufas:
[47:23] Very cool good for you that’s fantastic we should exchange pictures.

Cory Minton:
[47:29] Done.

Erin Banks:
[47:31] So two more questions so are you going anywhere interesting soon.

Greg Doufas:
[47:35] Am I going anywhere interesting soon,
not that I mean I think it’s interesting but my wife and I I don’t know what it is what it is I think that there’s something in the in the in the air in Toronto but Toronto Indians love Florida,
never thought that I would love it as much as we do but we are Canadian snowbirds we love taking trips to Florida whenever we can and we did this winter and will probably be back down but what we like to do is actually,
experiment and try some different place the last time we went with Sarasota and that were thinking maybe Marathon or maybe the keys will will start us make our choice.

Cory Minton:
[48:14] Have you been up to the Panhandle yet.

Greg Doufas:
[48:15] No no it’s alright yeah that was only want to try something different.

Cory Minton:
[48:18] Go to sleep go to go like I either if you’re really really cool Seaside is stunningly cool like looks like a little European Village nestled in the panhandle of Florida it’s absolutely stunning.

Greg Doufas:
[48:31] I think that was in a movie film there I remember my.

Cory Minton:
[48:34] Truman Show.

Greg Doufas:
[48:36] Truman Show that’s right I see side is a place my wife for showing me on a on an iPad the other day and trying to convince me to go and I’ve I’m easily convinced so I think it’s I think I might be in the cards for sure.

Cory Minton:
[48:48] It’s only A5 hour drive from my house.

Greg Doufas:
[48:50] Well there you go maybe I’ll maybe I’ll drive the car and we can’t.

Cory Minton:
[48:53] I Got High all I either some within within about four hour drive from here in Birmingham there’s five decent tracks actually one of only two F1 certified race courses in the u.s. is actually in Birmingham, Barber Motorsports Park.

Greg Doufas:
[49:05] Wow very.

Cory Minton:
[49:07] Oh yeah sorry and you’re heading.

Erin Banks:
[49:11] It’s all right the Doraville.

Greg Doufas:
[49:11] I think we just and I think we just invented a new podcast frankly.

Cory Minton:
[49:15] Click and Clack we could have our car show podcast House of quality.

Erin Banks:
[49:18] Oh I love that was a great show really liked it yes and then so one last question so what show are you currently binging on.

Greg Doufas:
[49:28] That’s a great question we we do love our Netflix here at home.
Binging is probably the wrong word but there’s a there’s a very good series called mine hunter on Netflix and,
there’s only one season but I know it’s been renewed for a second and it’s about sort of thought of the beginning of the FBI.
Profiling Division and so has my life is now been I’ve been sucked into the world of.
Cyber cyber security and all the things that I need to worry about this is sort of like the the first sort of iteration of that just thinking of how the how the human mind.
Thinks about doing bad things.

Erin Banks:
[50:12] Yeah that’s a great show I do love that show.

Greg Doufas:
[50:15] Yeah beautiful come to you.

Erin Banks:
[50:16] Yeah yeah tell her I love like a good. Show you know what the cars in the outfits and ever in the style I just love it.

Greg Doufas:
[50:23] Yeah absolutely.

Erin Banks:
[50:24] Greg we can’t thank you enough for being on our podcast and taking the time to talk to us about the Globe and Mail has been incredibly interesting and I there’s nothing better than just hearing this great Insight that you have and how you Progressive past five years in the success you had so thank you very much,
for everything and will talk to you soon.

Greg Doufas:
[50:41] Thank you both it’s been a lot of fun thank you very much for having me.

Cory Minton:
[50:45] Cheers buddy thank you.

Greg Doufas:
[50:46] Cheers thanks.