Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Inside The New York Times' new push notifications team

Digiday reporting:
The New York Times in September created an 11-person team, some of which are shared, to focus on messaging and push alerts. It is led by Andrew Phelps, who was formerly the Times’ iOS lead and now has the title of product director of messaging and push. Phelps, who oversees a lot of experiments in this area and works with news editors to push out alerts, sees 2016 as a big year for push.“We used to be standing on a hill and shouting messages at people,” he said. Now, by comparison, he said, “There’s a growing number of users who only engage with us when we send a push.”The push notification has great potential for personalization and, in this way, the Times is joining other publishers in thinking beyond the breaking-news alert to how it can customize notifications to people’s interests. At the Times, personalization can take a couple of forms. One is customizing pushes to people based on reading history. If you read a lot of politics stories on the Times, for example, the Times can be reasonably sure its recent magazine profile of Donald Trump might appeal to you.The Times is also testing pushes based on time of day and language...Once, the push notification sent only the top or breaking stories; that approach seems simplistic and dated now. The Times is well aware that when news breaks, people may see the same headline in multiple places. So along with customizing its pushes, it’s trying to make them stand out by adopting the more informal writing style it created for the Apple Watch. “We’re sort of treating push as a new form of storytelling,” Phelps said.

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