return Home

Inside the New York Times' new push notifications team

For publishers that have spent big money on mobile apps, the challenge now is not just getting people to download it but getting them to use it — and that’s where the push notification comes in.

The New York Times in September created a seven-person team to focus solely 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.”

Growing that number is a battle, though. People may spend most of their mobile screen time on apps, but the vast majority of that time is spent on just five apps. Meantime, publishers that haven’t invested in mobile apps stand to be disaggregated by the big social platforms, said John Borthwick, CEO and co-founder of Betaworks, which builds and invests in products for the mobile Web including Digg. “The social platforms are doing a better job of integrating articles,” he said, while publishers are “losing control of their ability to fully monetise their audience.”

Here are some of the ways the Times is thinking anew about notifications.

Making pushes more personal

The push notification has great potential for personalisation and, in this way, the Times is joining other publishers in thinking beyond the breaking-news alert to how it can customise notifications to people’s interests. At the Times, personalisation can take a couple of forms. One is customising 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. When President Obama renamed Alaska’s Mount McKinley to Denali, the Times pushed the story only to people in relevant time zones. With a magazine cover story on two sets of Bolivian twins, the Times sent a Spanish-language alert of a Spanish-language version of the story to people who had selected Spanish as their preferred language on their mobile. That group was far more likely to respond than those who got an English-language version, Phelps said.

Read the full article here

Source: Digiday

  • Proof that magazine media still deliver the best results for advertisers

    Magazines are a shortcut to quality and continues to deliver top results for advertisers, according to Linda Thomas Brooks, CEO at MPA, USA, said during a keynote on the second day of the FIPP World Congress in London (11 October) last week.

    16th Oct 2017 Features
  • Are digital editions dead?

    Digital editions have been around for a long time, going all the way back to the late 90's. But in 2010 when the iPad hit the digital runway, publishers jumped on the tablet bandwagon faster than they could shout, “Hallelujah!”. The struggling publishing industry had found itself a saviour.  

    16th Oct 2017 Opinion
  • Download the FIPP World Congress 2017 speaker presentations

    View and download the speaker presentations from the FIPP World Congress, 9-11 October 2017, London.

    19th Oct 2017 FIPP News
  • New skills will drive future publishing - FIPP chairman

    Without bringing newly skilled people into newsrooms, publishers will not succeed in the future. This was the stark warning delivered by Ralph Büchi, COO of the Ringier Group, CEO of Ringier Axel Springer Switzerland and newly elected chairman of FIPP, the network for global media.

    16th Oct 2017 Features
  • How artificial intelligence is set to impact media

    Artificial intelligence is a key technology that will transform many industries in the coming years. It is already playing an important role in the media, largely driven by the experiments of platforms like Google and Facebook.

    15th Oct 2017 Features


Visit our Youtube channel



FIPP newsletters allow you to keep up with industry trends, research, training and events across the world



Get global coverage of your launches, company news and innovations

Go to Full Site