A short post today to highlight the fascinating insights recently published by NiemanLab relating to the changing ways in which media, and specifically news media organizations are using push notifications.

News content providers were amongst the first to understand the significance of push notifications (or push alerts as NiemanLab calls them). After all, it’s a notification, for notifying someone about something - what more obvious use case is there than breaking news alerts? It was something of a match made in heaven, and plenty of investment was put into optimizing the push notification programs for leading media organizations.

In the early days, a lot of that investment was put into speed. With users having 5 or 6 news media apps on their device (not an unusual situation), for any given news story the first push notification to the device was most likely to get the click, the engagement, and the resulting advertising revenue. But as NiemanLab have discovered, smart operators have moved on a little from there.

In terms of those conclusions, two stand out:

Firstly, organizations are discovering that more conversational, ‘teaser’ type content is surprisingly effective. Whilst news might be considered hard currency, there is more than one way to bring users to an app, and it appears that alerts that pique curiosity are working. This is in contrast to the more traditional ‘headline’ approach that may be in danger of conveying too much in the push itself, and dis-incentivizing clicking as a result

Second, there remains some dissatisfaction with the quality of reporting when it comes to push. One contributor commented “We sort of do [use metrics]…We have an in-house tool and we can see, sort of, that when we send an alert we see a spike in traffic. That’s kind of what we see. So we do use that to gauge, ‘That did well, that didn’t do well.’” That sentence is a perfect reminder that often the reality of how we do business doesn’t always match up to our best intentions. It remains of vital importance to have metrics and analysis relating to push campaigns that goes far beyond the simple ‘click through rate’.