Mobile alerts: How are media outlets using them?

As most people are on mobile, push alerts are considered a good place to reach your audience.

Mobile now outstrips computer access for news in a growing number of countries, and along with it comes an appetite for news notifications. Reuters Institute research showed an upsurge in the last year, most notably the US (+8%), South Korea (+7%) and Australia (+4%), meaning that mobile alerts are an important route to news content for people whilst revitalising publishers’ approach to news apps.

News organizations with strong app downloads have been focusing on direct channels, such as alerts and notifications, to increase engagement. The first challenge is to inspire readers to get the app, then it is a matter of winning their loyalty on mobile, perhaps alerts are a vehicle for helping publishers achieve that.

The alert is simply a mechanism, sending the optimal amount of messages, with the appropriate content, at the relevant moment are the opportunities newsrooms can seize today.

Let’s take a look at how 3 publishers deliver mobile news alerts...

The Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab
The Guardian Lab aims to think strategically about what could be done with the information contained within a news alert and explore storytelling on small screens.


In numerous experiments using web notifications, they tested presenting information in various ways within a single updating alert to tell a story. They found that:

  1. Overall, including relevant information led users to explore content more deeply over a period of time.

  2. The Lab also observed that alerts are a piece of information in itself and can be used to redirect readers where extra information is available.

  3. A universally applicable observation is that if the message in a push alert contains relevant information presented in a concise way, people will tap through to content.


The New York Times

At the New York Times, push notifications increased readership significantly. According to Desirée Shoe, the NYT’s London-based digital editor, notifications spiked reader engagement.

The publisher uses notifications not just for breaking news but also to flag selected pieces of content showcasing their best journalism. Key to this strategy is providing a “reason why” for sending notifications. The New York Times aims to have a dialogue with its readers and according to Shoe, push notifications are sent on average eight times a day across various targeted audiences.

The lockscreen is almost a new homepage and as long as readers are not opting out it is a success.

Desirée Shoe, Digital Editor at The New York Times

CNN International

At CNN International, push alerts tell the story straight and keep the language simple. Key to their strategy is to prioritize accuracy over speed, keeping alerts to a minimum. A mistake in a push alert - be it a typo or wrong facts - can cost the organization’s reputation so it is essential to always have an editorial eye even on short messages. Notifications must be accurate, timely and informative.


Want to learn how to use notifications for news & what is coming up next? Take a look at the News alerts & the battle for the lock-screen report by the Reuters Institute of Journalism.

Insights include:

  1. Apple users tend to get more news alerts.
  2. The average number of alerts is around 10 per day
  3. Younger people tend to get more alerts.
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Thanking our contributors to this article: 

Desiree Shoe, Digital Editor, The New York Times, @DesNYT

Sasha Koren, Editor, The Guardian Mobile Lab, @SashaK

 

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