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El Español

Digital paper adds to revenue streams with AI

El Español’s subscription service lets publishers automatically transform text-based articles into audio.

Partnering for innovation

As Spain’s most widely read digital newspaper, El Español has relied on a mixed revenue strategy of advertising and subscriptions. But, in their quest to reach even more readers across the globe, they knew they would need to expand their revenue streams while offering greater value to users.

Partnering with Google News Initiative (GNI), El Español undertook their first of several innovation projects harnessing their own first-party data. Advertising revenue increased as they offered advertisers high-quality segmented audiences and created data-informed editorial services, such as content recommendations, for readers.

“The experience [of working with GNI] has been enriching because we have worked with different partners and have been supported by Google's experience,” says El Español Innovation & Strategy Director Daniel Muñoz. “We have also been able to implement projects with funds that we would never have [had access to otherwise].”

GNI provides a great opportunity to accelerate innovation, particularly for publishers with limited resources.
Daniel Muñoz
Innovation & Strategy Director

Creating AI-powered audio

The latest of these projects is Voicetoyou, which El Español built in 2022. The AI-powered tool automatically converts news stories into audio pieces, allowing the publisher to capture a new audience of listeners. “The most innovative part of this project is that we’re fine-tuning an algorithm that will allow us to use real voices for the automatically-generated audio,” Muñoz explains.

El Español is still testing out the technology, but they are currently converting about 30 articles per day into audio from their top departments, including politics, international news, and opinion. And they have already noticed a remarkable increase in engagement: Users of the audio tool spend up to 500 percent more time consuming news on El Español’s site than other users. They expect that about 10 percent of their articles will eventually be converted to audio.

  • 500% more time spent on El Español by Listeners
  • ~30 audio articles generated per day
  • 10% of articles to be converted to audio

A subscription service to boost the bottom line

Just as important as the improved user experience is the opportunity Voicetoyou provides for increasing and diversifying revenue. El Español plans to monetize their service via subscription, offering the tool to other publishers. “Although they haven’t begun marketing Voicetoyou, five to six other publishers have already expressed a great deal of interest.”

El Español will offer three subscription plans with robo-voices, premium voices (WaveNet), or custom voices that will allow publishers to mimic the voices of their journalists. The platform will include a text-to-speech script, audio management tools, and a KPI and metrics dashboard.

“There are some English-language competitors in the market, but none of them do it well in Spanish,” Muñoz says. “It’s always good to get innovation projects right… and in our case, it would not have been possible without GNI’s help.”

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