The Information embraces the evolution of how we search

October 16, 2023
Team Objective

The Information – by many measures the largest technology-focused subscription news platform in the world – migrated from Elastic Search to Objective. They now offer their tech-forward subscriber base the ability to express search queries using complete, meaningful sentences. Showcased as “Powered by AI”, the new search experience is designed to drive deeper reader engagement with long-form editorial content.

Sam Lessin of The Information (also, consumer internet pioneer and podcast host) weighed in.

The Information

The Information has rapidly become the trusted news source of record for the Tech, Media, and Finance world.  Started 10 years ago by Jessica Lessin and pioneering the move to serious news, away from ad support and towards subscriptions, The Information has assembled the largest full-time team of journalists focused on breaking the most important tech stories – stories that move markets.

Search Challenges

Subscribers of The Information represent the leading executives and investors in Silicon Valley. For them, search is more than browsing for an entertaining read – they’re looking to research a company, make an investment decision, or understand an emerging trend. Search relevance matters, a lot.

As a company, The Information prioritizes journalism. Technology is important, but plays a supporting role. Historically the company ran and tuned its own Elastic Search instance:

“It was difficult to get the best possible results” says Sam Lessin. “Tailoring a search system to a website was unnecessarily difficult before AI. Now it’s possible to deliver great results with minimal tweaking and configuration, which is ideal for smaller companies without large, dedicated search teams.”

Before landing on Objective Search, the small but capable technology team had explored different options, both in the traditional lexical search world, and the emerging AI search world:

“There are multiple approaches - we’ve tried them all, including rolling our own and using GPT4. Objective Search is a hassle-free option you can trust.” - Sam Lessin, The Information.

Artificial Intelligence leads to Natural Interactions

When searching news articles, it’s important to be able to search the traditional way, using specific keywords – this is valuable for example when a subscriber searches the precise title of an article. But for long articles with complex topics, AI enables subscribers to discover content based on the semantic meaning buried deep inside paragraphs. In adopting Objective, The Information didn’t have to choose one or the other, as the platform intelligently combines both paradigms out of the box.

“… we use analytics to understand how search results are engaged with – we know that simple searches should most often have obvious results, but we’re simultaneously excited about what AI search can do for the longer tail of queries.” – Sam Lessin, The Information.

With Objective Search powering its primary ‘article search’ function, The Information has introduced a new search experience – ’Powered by AI’ – that leverages an expanded text area input as well as suggested search terms. The goal? To encourage subscribers to fully explore 10 years of in-depth journalism by leveraging AI’s ability to understand natural language:

Pragmatic Tools for Productive Teams

At Objective, we believe most teams – even those with strong in-house AI capabilities – would rather jump straight to great search results than spend endless hours debating and tweaking the latest models. “This is clearly better than managing an in-house solution” said Sam, and better yet, the cost and complexity savings don’t require trade-offs: “search is absolutely better than it was!”

Thanks to Sam and The Information team for being great partners and for helping illustrate the incredible power of AI-native search.

See Objective Search for yourself: Schedule a demo.

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