Indonesia’s IDN Media leveraging AI to offer greater value, user experience

2024-05-13. “AI is just a tool… it’s never the end-product,” noted Auriel Aulia Widjaja, Head of Product at Indonesia’s IDN Media, which began as a single news website 10 years ago and now comprises seven media verticals, a live-streaming super app, and various digital media and experiential businesses with over 70 million monthly active users across its ecosystem.

by WAN-IFRA External Contributor | May 13, 2024

By Joon-Nie Lau

Widjaja reminded the audience at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Asia conference in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur in April that the two most important elements of a news product are the value it brings to users and the overall user experience.

“AI should never be the sole product value,” said Widjaja, adding that AI should be used to help audiences find value in one’s product and be seamlessly integrated into the user experience.

Describing one very successful AI integration initiative IDN Media had implemented in December 2023, Widjaja reported that this had resulted in a 12.5% increase in engagement time between October 2023 and March 2024 and a corresponding 244.8% increase in advertising impressions over a similar period.

Caption: Engagement Time & Advertising Impressions before/after implementation of the “Intinya Sih” AI initiative on IDN Times


  1. The Y-axis for Engagement Time does not start at zero
  2. For Advertising Impressions, the 244.8% increase is based on a comparison of the average of the three months prior to T with the average of the three months after T, in order to rule out seasonality.

Making the point

From surveying more than 1,000 mostly college-educated Gen Zs, IDN Media knew that this audience spent more time on social media than on any news sites, driven by their primary desire for entertainment and easily digestible content. That said, they remained skeptical of information on social media and would still turn to news publishers for verified, curated content.

To close this gap and their need for verified information in social-sized chunks, IDN Media created “Intinya Sih” (“Here’s the Point”), which are article summaries that take less than 20 seconds to glean.

“Intinya Sih” crunches down longer articles that typically take several minutes to read into easily-digestible synopses embedded into the article page for a seamless user experience – just perfect for the shorter attention spans of IDN’s youthful audiences.

This effort has paid off so well in terms of engagement time and advertising impressions that IDN Media is now rolling this AI feature out to its other media properties.

See also: IDN Media: ‘Our vision is to create a one-stop platform for the young generation of Indonesia’

Playing with data: turning structured data into unstructured content

IDN Media’s earliest forays into using AI since 2018 involved taking clean, structured data involving weather, earthquakes, market updates and sports scores and turning them into narrative articles for easier reading. This involved partnering data providers and government agencies.

Today, IDN Media’s AI-driven robot journalist “Timmy si Robot” produces eight types of articles on a daily basis, ranging from weather updates, quake alerts, match results, market movements, trivia, home and décor tips, technology tips and the meaning of popular song lyrics.

But this AI bot isn’t left to its own devices. A separate AI system developed by another organisation using different training models is used to moderate Timmy si Robot’s work. There is also human monitoring of these implementations by IDN Media’s editorial, product, engineering and audience development teams as a check and balance.

Optimising unstructured data for better products and value

With 10 years of unstructured editorial content such as articles and recipes, IDN Media has harnessed ChatGPT to convert 2.5 million tried-and-tested recipes in its archives into structured data. Recipe ingredients, their amounts and measurement units are processed by AI into component data so that product enhancements can be offered, such as editable grocery shopping lists and scalable recipes for larger meals.

Try new ideas without making heavy investments

For IDN Media, leveraging AI has enabled this decade-old Indonesian media platform company to be truly agile and continuously try out new ideas without heavy investments into untested products. Ideas which fail can be killed off quickly while successful ones can be built out further.

“Intinya Sih” took just over a month to develop, compared to the six months or more needed without AI.

AI has shortened the time it takes to bring new products to market by offering value to users speedily and has helped IDN Media stay relevant to the behaviours of an ever-changing audience.

About the author: Joon-Nie Lau is Executive Producer/Managing Partner of Factual TV (Singapore) LLP and a Vice-President of the Singapore Press Club.

The Digital Media Awards Asia 2024 were also presented during the conference. Congratulations to all the winners!

WAN-IFRA External Contributor

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