Facebook has had varying levels of success with its news content apps in the past. Instant Articles, which was unveiled earlier in the year and is optimised to enable readers to quickly access content on Facebook, appears to have impressed both readers and publishers. However, its previous app, Paper has struggled to connect with the network’s users.
Notify, which debuted exclusively in the US only and solely on the iOS platform, looks like a more formidable proposition.
It is essentially a content notifications service. Users sign up for stories about sports, news, celebrities etc which are then delivered by the social network’s media partners. At launch 70 media brands had signed up, but Facebook said that the number would increase significantly time goes by.
“Notify from Facebook sends you notifications from the sources you trust, whether you are a sports fan, a film buff, a news junkie or a little bit of everything. Stay up to date on things you care about right on your lock screen,” runs the voiceover on the company’s introductory video.
So why then is Facebook likely to have got its latest news app right?
1. It is primarily a mobile product
The key thing for Notify is that the notifications appear on a locked iPhone screen and the user swipes the link to open up the content. The fact that the content is personalised and that the user has already signed up to receive notifications on that topic from that media brand makes it a potent way of pushing content.
2. But it will work on other formats
Notifications on wearables like smartwatches are becoming key for publishers. As long as the content is relevant and personal it is clear that there is an appetite from users to see news updates.
3. Facebook is likely to promote the app much harder than Paper
The social network was very pushy with its Messenger app, setting a precedent which could mean that Notify ends up being widely downloaded.
4. There is a content recommendation play possible
This is how Facebook could monetise the app by offering branded content links/suggested stories. Again if those links are targeted and relevant then the click through rates could be spectacular. There is clearly an opportunity here for both publishers and brands to target users.
5. The notification options are very granular
There are lots of options, as this post explains, users can personalise the app by choosing news from their favourite team or key company from their preferred publisher. The app also takes into account a person’s likes to make suggestions for news sources they might want to follow.
There is no news yet on when the app will be available outside the US and on other platforms. If the take up on iOS in the US is high though, surely it won’t be too long before Notify is available across the globe.
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