Hermes, a journalistic recommender system developed by Sanoma, has won the INMA competition. Winner of the Best Idea to Encourage Reader Engagement category, this time around, Hermes was the only Finnish entry to reach the final.

“My warmest congratulations to the awardees! INMA is one of the most prestigious competitions in the industry, and success in it is always a source for celebration,” says Pia Kalsta, CEO, Sanoma Media Finland. “It is important to share development work between commercial operations and deliveries. Successes will then have a broad impact on the operations of the company as a whole and, above all, improve the reader experience.”

Hermes personalises content and helps show each reader the content that fits their personal reading habits and interests. You can find more information about the system on the INMA website: INMA: Best Practice – Hermes - The World’s Most Efficient News Desk Chief.

The results of the project are impressive. Front-page views and the number of opened articles have increased by 10 per cent, visits have increased and the click-through rate of news alerts has nearly doubled compared to non-personalised content.

Since 2017, a vast number of both Sanoma and partners’ experts have been involved in the design, development and maintenance of Hermes. Content personalisation officially started already back in late November 2016 at Sanoma House K1 as a pilot project of Ilta-Sanomat.

“At the workshop, we were spitballing about user and article data that we could use to personalise content distribution. IS’s editorial staff were involved from the outset to ensure that the solution was easy to understand and that it respected journalistic principles, such as making sure that too much similar content was not recommended to readers,” recalls Valtteri Vartiainen, Head of Data at News and Feature Media.

Since then, the solution has progressed in leaps and bounds. In 2018, HS joined the fray and personalisation was extended to cover other parts of the news services. “In addition to the editorial staffs of IS and HS, Timo Rinne and Vesa Lindqvist from the commercial department of U&F deserve praise for driving personalisation early on. It is thanks to them that, following the early success, the further investments required to enable us to reach a whole new performance level were made in the development.”

These days, journalists, data scientists, analysts and product owners contribute to the weekly work. Vartiainen reserves special praise for the data and personalisation team of U&F, which is both responsible for the current technical development of Hermes and in constant dialogue with the editorial staff:

“To name but a few, Maximilan Koppatz, Antti Martikainen, Katriina Wallinmaa, Jonna Soramo, Jyri Lautala, Kalle Aaltonen, Julius Turunen, Aki Mäkitaipale, Mika Seppälä, Mikko Airaksinen and Teemu Toivonen are absolutely essential to the story of personalised content distribution. And let’s not forget Esa Mäkinen, Niina Viitanen, Simo Holopainen, Jutta Högmander, Hannu Pitkäranta and Jaakko Kangasluoma from the editorial staff,” says Vartiainen.