As publishers grapple with how to best make use of the troves of audience data at their disposal, a growing number are handing brands the keys to in-house data and artificial intelligence tools that could change the way ads and sponsored content are sold, according to Adweek.

The New York Times, Group Nine Media and The Washington Post are among the media companies that have taken advantage of data science projects built for editorial purposes to give advertisers a clearer picture of who’s consuming their content and how to best speak to them. Publishers hope programs like these might help them gain back ground from tech giants like Facebook and Google that dominate the ads industry through targeting precision.

The Times debuted a unit earlier this year called nytDEMO that encompasses two new data-crunching tools. One, called “Project Feels,” is meant to gauge and analyze readers’ emotional reaction to articles and videos through a crowdsourced survey tool.

The other, Readerscope, tracks which topics resonate most with which readers on a more granular level than was previously possible and draws conclusions to better target advertising campaigns. Both tools were originally designed for the paper’s editorial and subscription sales departments, Adweek reports.

Chris Wiggins, the Times’ chief data scientist, said the unit’s focus on data around the content it produces and how readers interact with it rather than precise audience demographics sets the project apart in an ad industry that largely trades on intimate knowledge of consumer identity, Adweek said.

“When you think about advertising and data–pretty much since the creation of the focus group advertising–data has meant data about people—for example, demographics—but that’s just a very small city within the continent of ways publishers use data,” Wiggins said. “There’s a lot we can do with machine learning and data and advertising that’s not necessarily the way people have understood the relationship between data and advertising for practically the last half-century.”

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