Palo’s CEO interview at the “Intelligence life” magazine
Palo.gr brought a revolution in the electronic news reading and searching in the Greek market. The “Intelligent Life” of Economist, which monitors the developments in this field and promotes new, innovative initiatives, met the founder of palo, Mr. Panayioti Tsantila at palo’s head quarters in Corinthos.
Mr Tsantila how did you come up with the idea of palo.gr; What is innovative about it and why the reader of the Greek web will choose this instead of other news site;
We realized early the need and the desire of the Greek reader to find all the news of the greek web, grouped into clusters, in one site. So we came up with the idea of palo, which began in 2008 it’s trial operation from me and another partner, who has now left the company.
In palo there are several innovations that provide a completely different level of information to the reader, with respect to all other news sites. Firstly, the automatic aggregation of all news of the Greek web in one website. More than 50,000 news, photos, videos and posts are aggregated every day and presented directly to the reader. Secondly, the automatic grouping of them into clusters according to the topic they are referred to. All news are grouped and ranked daily into 300-400 clusters. In this way, we manage to present always the most important news of the Greek-speaking web and therefore our reader has the ability to find out easily and instantly the main topics of the 120 news categories. Thirdly, the personalized presentation of news, the news that the reader chooses to read. At palo readers can create their own themes and monitor them in real time.
The full and objective coverage of all the news in combination with the easy and friendly well designed interface lead more than 1 million unique visitors per month to our website.
How the name «palo» did came up?
After a few days of brainstorming we came up with the name. Our inspiration was the greek word “polla” that means “many” and we simply changed the order of the vowels.
How did you decide to deal with online news? It was something that you have thought a long time ago and you were interested in, or you simply realized that there was a market niche for you?
My involvement with online journalism started in 2001. It was my strategic decision to deal with internet and news – especially economic journalism – and I took over the reins of one of the economic websites in Greece “reporter.gr”. After seven years as a General Manager of the company and having experienced throughout the evolution of the Greek internet, I decided to start this difficult and ambitious task of creating an innovative search engine news site.
How does this platform work? Which are the criteria that you use in order to choose the websites you will find the news and include them as results of your search engine?
Palo.gr is the leading news search engine in Greece today. It is an inclusive and independent news website that collects and aggregates over 50,000 news and posts of the Greek-speaking web, from over 12,000 websites and blogs every day. Palo.gr is an unique service, in which all Greek news are collected, grouped and ranked automatically every 3 minutes, due to algorithms, without human intervention. Additionally, the service allows visitors to read and to compare the way in which the different publishers present the same news. The clustering algorithm of palo examines many parameters in each news article in order to determine how relevant the articles are and group them together. The categorization and ranking of the most important stories are based on many, complex criteria, which include, among other the coverage and the update frequency of the topic in different sources.
According to your experience, Greeks are well-informed? What do you consider as the most interesting news topics for them?
Greeks are updated constantly and they want to participate in the transfiguration of the image that media create. Also, they are very interested in finding objective information sources and independent journalists. The most popular news categories in Greece are politics, economics, sports, local news, entertainment and women’s news, followed by the subcategories; society, business, football, life-style and technology.
Which is the target group of palo?
Palo refers to an inclusive audience, entrepreneurs, professionals, business executives, private and public employees, aged 24 to 45, with high educational level .
Today there is an enormous amount of information and news, how easy is to be seriously and objectively informed?
This is precisely the problem that palo came to solve. The design and functionality of this website presents automatically the most important news of the day and helps the reader to find out at a glance all the hot topics in all domain categories. In this manner, Greek readers are informed and independent because they can read all the news and opinions of the topic they found interesting.
The evolution is rapid, news are displayed every second…
Palo is probably the only Greek news site which has a 24 hours newsfeed. In peak time, as it is from 13.00 to 14.00 palo is gathering more than 4,000 news per hour. Additionally, with each cluster we present all the relevant opinion articles, blog posts, photos, and the videos.
If we could predict the future, do you believe that is possible to customize news even more? Will people have the ability to choose the news they will read before they are written?
Now we are for preparing a new service – it will be presented in 2014 for the first
time in the Greek market- which will predict the progress and as a result will be able to give the message of events that are coming. I will give you more details when this service will be presented to the Greek public. Of course, palo has already the service “Options” , through which people have the opportunity to personalize and customize the information process. The reader, by registering at palo, determines the content he is interested in by defining keywords. Thus, he can follow the related news and can also choose the desired frequency of receiving these news even as an email alert.
On your new service, palo pro, you are doing something that is unique in the Greek market…
In December 2012 we launched our new subscription service, palo Professional. It is a service for monitoring, analysis and management of online reputation. With palo Pro, companies, organizations, people and brands, have the opportunity to view gathered in real time all the news, posts, discussions and videos of the Greek-speaking web that concerns them with a simple, friendly and useful tool. Palo Pro subscribers can find out automatically and in real time where the discussions starts, what is influencing positively, negatively or neutrally the company or their brand and which is their image in the Greek web.
How easy is for someone to start a business in the middle of a crisis, in such an unstable situation?
It is extremely difficult for someone to start a new business in this time period. For many young people this is one way of course because they do not have something to lose by trying to implement a new and innovative idea. It takes personal sacrifices, bravery, great tenacity and countless hours of Work! Cost control is the “key” to survive is this time period and it is like “good defense ” in basketball or football.
2012 was a year of successes for you…
The two major praises for palo came during the most difficult year for the Greeks and it means a lot for our future efforts. In early 2012 we achieved an important distinction in Ermis Awards, after been selected as one of the top 3 news sites in 2011, and in December we won a praise at the Evolution Awards 2013 in the ” Research and Development ” category. We will continue with a systematic effort and dedication to quality, for even more praises abroad. We will continue being innovative through design and technology.
One of the habits-pleasures that Greeks had- was to buy a newspaper, particularly on Sundays and spend time to read it. Do you think that technology and innovative services overcame this habit?
This habit has been overcome and the reader can easily read what is interesting for him, from many different devices, either being at home or being in any other place.
According to your point of view, is this a positive change?
Direct access to any form of information the reader wants to have is a highly significant development. You should know that the palo reader within a few seconds, has a comprehensive picture of the news in general but he can also find out about any other topic he is interested in.
What do you think about the future of printed news? What about online news?
All forms of news reporting are necessary and they will co exist in
future. The digital will of course gain more and more ground
against the paper until we reach the point of balance between them. We can see a higher degree of convergence between the different means of information
and especially between television and the internet.
What do you think about social media, which are lately developing more and more?
Greeks in social media are raising their voice and they participate heavily
even in the dissemination of news. They write and comment on news and they can change the evolutionary process. Companies, politicians and all those who have significant presence in social media, they have perceived this value and they are using our new subscription service palo Professional, which collects and analyzes all reports from all the social media networks and other media, in a very friendly and easy navigation environment.
Which is the procedure do you follow with copyrights?
Palo’s, readers only see the title of the news articles and a small text of it, while they can see the original site and the date of this post. The title contains the link of the referral source. With this policy there are no copyrights issues with publishers, who eventually receive significant traffic from us.
When you began operating palo.gr 5 years ago, could you imagine the current situation?
Yes, from the beginning I believed that there was a need for a smart news
search engine, since I had previously done market research, both at the consumer level and at corporate to find ads. Also, in the summer of 2010, in collaboration with Alco Ltd, we conducted qualitative market research amongst readers, who were informed solely by the Internet and palo was warmly received. The progress so far is small compared to what I have envisioned and I am implementing step by step.
Which are your future business plans?
Our goal is the continuous strengthening of our brand, the introduction of
new innovative services for more content Intelligence and of course our international expansion throughout Europe and beyond.