Optimizing content with A/B headline testing: Changing newsroom practices

Nick Hagar*, Nicholas Diakopoulos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Audience analytics are an increasingly essential part of the modern newsroom as publishers seek to maximize the reach and commercial potential of their content. On top of a wealth of audience data collected, algorithmic approaches can then be applied with an eye towards predicting and optimizing the performance of content based on historical patterns. This work focuses specifically on content optimization practices surrounding the use of A/B headline testing in newsrooms. Using such approaches, digital newsrooms might audience-test as many as a dozen headlines per article, collecting data that allows an optimization algorithm to converge on the headline that is best with respect to some metric, such as the click-through rate. This article presents the results of an interview study which illuminate the ways in which A/B testing algorithms are changing workflow and headline writing practices, as well as the social dynamics shaping this process and its implementation within US newsrooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-127
Number of pages11
JournalMedia and Communication
Issue number1EmergingTechnologies
StatePublished - 2019


  • Audience metrics
  • Content optimization
  • Digital media
  • Headline testing
  • Headlines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Optimizing content with A/B headline testing: Changing newsroom practices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this