Hearst Magazines, the media enterprise, is using Slack, the workplace collaboration platform, to help spread audience insights across its business.

Troy Young, Hearst Magazines’ president, discussed this subject at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) 2019 NexGen Marketing Summit.

More specifically, he outlined how the “Hearst Analytics Slackbot” – known internally as HANS – is programmed to deliver real-time answers to questions posed by the company’s editors and reporters.

This application is even capable of understanding inquiries in natural language, so a journalist can ask for information as they would if talking to a real-life market researcher. (For more, read WARC's in-depth report: Hearst spreads audience insights using an automated bot on Slack)

“We basically destroyed dashboards, destroyed the notion of an analytics department and said, ‘It's just available if you ask the question,’” Young said.

“And then we said to the whole team, ‘This is a data company as much as [anything]. This is a data-powered creative company, and we're going to completely democratise this thing.’”

Some of the questions that HANS can answer might involve popular content on Hearst’s digital properties – say, “What are the best stories on Elle today?” or “What are the top stories on Good Housekeeping in the last five minutes?” – said Young.

Equally, he said, they can discover broader internet trends by finding out which stories are trending across the web, and which Hearst publications have already reported on them.

As Hearst sites like Delish are also involved in ecommerce, it is possible for HANS to tackle queries such as “What are the top products that people bought today?”

Young has actively championed the use of HANS too. “Something like Slack was a big part of how we interacted inside of our product and tech groups, and our digital editors used it,” he said.

“But it didn't permeate the whole organization. I just said to people, ‘If you want to get a hold of me, I'm there, I’m not on email.’

“And what it did is it drew people into the conversational environment that is Slack. It started to flatten the org and make us more efficient.”

Sourced from WARC