Can software increase freelance efficiency?
Combining lessons from finance, data science, and machine learning, Upfeed’s article qualifier seeks to enhance the marketplace for freelance writers and content buyers
Gudbrand Teigen, InnoBørs
Downturns in the publishing industry and the closure of Bonnier in Norway have led many writers to become freelancers. From other industries it is known that efficient purchasing processes are conditional on informed buyers and sellers. The UAQ—Upfeed Article Qualifier tool will provide insight into the quality of the article and the reception it receives from the readers.
Upfeed is a research and development-based startup that was founded in the summer of 2015. The Upfeed team includes entrepreneur General Manager Joakim William Hauge, a financier with data-driven business development as a specialty.
Also on the team are Editor-in-chief Håvard Holmedal, an editor and business developer with an international network; CTO Stein Magne Bjørklund, a developer; Chief Data Scientist Ole Henrik Skogstrøm, a data scientist focusing on smaller environments such as startup companies; COO Torkel Ruud, a serial contractor with a large network; and CGO Joachim Svenstad McLean, a contractor and financier.
“We all have experience from previous startup companies and know each other from before,” says Hauge. “Solving the current challenges for buyers and sellers in the media industry started with looking at asset management in the financial industry. Finance researchers, such as Harry Markowitz, Eugene Fama, Kenneth French, William Sharpe, and others, had different opinions. But they agreed a healthy market is an ‘effective’ market. So the idea is that if everyone has access to full information, so that insider trading is not possible, then all the info is priced right into the products.”
Entrepreneurs realize that this is an extreme interpretation of the market and that it is quite possible to sit on inside information. The point is that full and equal information to the buyer and seller is optimal. Full information is a goal to strive for in the financial industry and other markets, such as the media industry.
“I can hardly imagine a less transparent market than the media industry,” Hauge adds. “The market for articles is extremely inefficient. As in the financial industry, we believe the key to a healthy market in the media industry is transparency, so that everyone has access to the same information. Where everyone has full information, all products and services are bought and sold at a ‘fair price.’ And the writers want better access to browser data regardless of the buyers.”
The acknowledgments led to a three-part ecosystem. The platform—Upfeed Article Qualifier (UAQ)—continuously strives to optimize its features based on new information. Output is advice to all parties in the ecosystem:
• Buyers: What do you need from articles? Is it health? What kind of health? Is it wellness or medical research? Emotions—are you positive or negative toward the topic you want to buy content about? Is this not relevant? “We want to refine the articles and themes so that everyone can become more professional.”
• Writers / Sellers: Need information on how their content is received by readers, how well the content is written, and the result compared to competing content in the market.
• Upfeed / Marketplace: “Our role in the ecosystem is to learn so we can share useful information, but also to act as a marketplace. This can be our own platform, but the articles can also be delivered via Application programming interface to third-party platforms such as Egmont or Amedia’s solutions.”
Upfeed will make money on commission of the articles sold from its own marketplace and on the use of the UAQ software.
UAQ uses data science and machine learning to evaluate articles. Data from readers is used to group articles in relation to the article’s identity. Unedited articles come in from journalists, writers, and freelancers and are evaluated by UAQ. Articles are then sold to various news channels and media, either via Upfeed’s own marketplace or the customer’s editorial article system. Processed articles are displayed to readers. Response data is used to enhance decision-making and generate guidance for the writers, so that they can customize text.
“In this tough market we see a clear need for a tool that gives all writers unaffected, relevant, and independent feedback directly from the readers,” says Hauge. “We have made some estimates by looking at the potential of streamlining the buying process of sales of articles. We have compared it to more efficient markets, such as the financial market, where the buyer and seller have the same information. Our assessment is that the volume of purchase and sale of content will increase by 10 times over the next three to five years, which is Upfeed’s goal.”
Upfeed’s intention is to make all parties in the ecosystem smarter, not just Upfeed. The company will make money by sharing its expertise. It will create new value by increasing the volume of articles that are sold, value and price of the articles, and access to new players who previously did not participate in this market.
“We have launched a beta version of the service,” says Hauge. “We have a selection of customers who have used the service. About 40 freelance writers deliver content to the platform. The most unique thing about what we do is that we define an ecosystem and try to optimize it as a whole. Many make smart internet solutions that try to analyze news, but most people do so with the intention that we/I will be smarter and make better decisions.
“We have some proprietary models for how we interpret market data, which in the long term can be the basis for a patent application, but this is not yet the focus.”
In the early stages, Upfeed’s threshold for collaboration is as low as possible. Upfeed is a data-driven company and needs data to deliver. Pilot customer collaboration has been entered into with a number of actors, both writers and article buyers.
“We have great ambitions to launch a version in the United States as soon as possible,” Hauge says. “We notice that there are some investors who think this is very exciting.”
This article originally appeared in Norwegian in the March 27 issue of Innomag.no (www.innomag.no/ukens-grundercase-vil-speede-opp-kjop-og-salg-av-artikler).
This article originally appeared in the April 19, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.