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Watson tie-up boosts Bon Appétit

News, 16 January 2015

NEW YORK: Bon Appétit, Condé Nast's cooking magazine, has successfully managed to differentiate itself through digital channels by tapping the power of Watson, IBM's cognitive computing system.

Adam Rapoport, Bon Appétit's editor-in-chief, discussed this subject while speaking at Advertising Age's latest Data Conference.

"The publishing world is an interesting place these days," Rapoport said. (For more, including further details of how the firm has tested the Watson program, read Warc's exclusive report: Bon Appétit finds a recipe for success with IBM's Watson.)

"We are a point where you've got to be innovative and you have to think more about innovation, and you have to constantly be inventing and be conceiving. As much as we love magazines, as much as we love the printed page, that's not enough."

In reflection of this need, Bon Appétit partnered with Watson on an innovative system for creating new recipes – a tie-up that originally arose following a demonstration of this platform at South by Southwest.

While the print title may not seem like an obvious candidate to spearhead the data revolution, Rapoport reminded the conference delegates that its recipes effectively constitute a huge database of information.

"You need to think about recipes not just as content, but as data. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense," he said.

"One reason that our 9,000 recipes have worked really well to fuel Watson is that they are all formulated the same: we have a code, so to speak.

"The measurements are all written out the same; the instructions about sautéing an onion – 'Rinse, then do this' – always has to be the same."

Despite the unique recommendations which Watson can provide based on its ability to generate hypotheses, Bon Appétit's aim – as with all its recipes – is for readers to adapt them in line with their own preferences.

"Really, Watson does not know what tastes good," he said. "It's your job as a cook to use your intuition and to look at stuff with a little bit of a sceptical eye and say, 'That sounds good, but that's definitely too much oil and that's definitely too much vinegar. I like where's this recipe's going, but I need to tweak it.'

Data sourced from Warc