Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Should it stay or should it go: News outlets scramble to cover Britain’s decision to exit the European Union
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
March 10, 2011, 2:30 p.m.

The NYT adds recommendation features to its article pages

We wrote a few weeks back about The New York Times’ new recommendation engine: a customized page that displays Times articles you’ve consumed over the past month, broken down by topic, and that suggests other articles you might be interested in.

It’s a fascinating feature — a way to bring a little bit of personalization to the editorially-driven experience that is NYTimes.com. It’s also existed, though, essentially in private beta. To see the Times’ you-tailored article recs, you’d have to know that those recommendations were available to you in the first place. There was no obvious way to get your recommendations beyond knowing — or being sent a link to — their URL.

Today, though, the Recommendations feature is launching in fully public form: Not only has a press release announcing the feature been sent out, but the Times, more interestingly, has added a “Recommended for You” tab next to the “Most Emailed” tab on article pages’ Most Popular module. If you’re logged into NYTimes.com, you’ll see a list of 10 recommendations under the tab. (According to the Times, I might be interested in learning more about: the iPad 2, the marketing industry, David Broder, air pollution in Wyoming, and a turtle in Hanoi that “escapes would-be rescuers.” Which, yep, seems about right.) And users who aren’t logged in, by the way, can still receive suggestions – on both on the Recommendations page and under the Recommended for You tab on article pages. But the lists are abbreviated, and based only on those users’ most recent reading history.

If you want a fuller customization experience, a click on the module’s “All Recommendations” link will send you to your personal Recommendations dashboard — which features 20 article recs, along with a detailed breakdown of your most-read subjects, both over the past 30 days and overall. An illuminating, if potentially shame-inducing, experience.

There’s a nice elegance to the recommendation’s integration into the Times’ site design: It’s obvious without being intrusive. And it’s an intriguing way to solve a common challenge: giving readers a news experience that is both helpfully customized and helpfully serendipitous. “To me, no matter what the model, the more people who read and are engaged with your website or your digital products, the better,” Marc Frons, the Times’ CTO for digital operations, told me at the feature’s soft launch last month. “So the recommendation engine just fits into our overall strategy of increasing user engagement.”

Now that’s it more integrated, it also offers a nice opportunity for advertiser engagement. The official launch of the Recommendations feature is sponsored by Thomson Reuters — you’ll see small ads on the Most Popular module and a bigger one on the Recommendations dashboard. And the product will be open to sponsorships by other advertisers going forward.

And while, for now, the Recommendations tab is present only on Times article pages, the hope is to expand its presence onto the Times homepage “within the next few weeks” — which will allow the paper, intriguingly, to compare the performance of the module on the homepage versus on the article pages. It’ll be fascinating to learn those data, particularly in light of the fact that the Times, like a number of news outlets, gets over half of its traffic directly from homepage visits. And it’ll be interesting, more broadly, to see how the Recommendations feature performs now that it’s moved beyond its “news nerd only” phase: How will regular users respond to the Times’ recs? Will their integration on the site meaningfully affect user engagement? Those data will be instructive to all of us. After all, as Mathew Ingram recently put it: “Recommendation is still the holy grail for news.”

POSTED     March 10, 2011, 2:30 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Should it stay or should it go: News outlets scramble to cover Britain’s decision to exit the European Union
Online, readers stayed up for the results: Peak traffic to BBC News, for instance, was around 4 a.m. GMT, and by 11 a.m. BBC.com had received 88 million page views.
Acast wants to get new audiences “in the podcast door” with more diverse shows and better data
With a new paid subscription option and its sights set on non English-speaking countries, the Swedish podcasting startup is looking for listeners (and shows) beyond the iTunes set.
“Medium’s team did everything”: How 5 publishers transitioned their sites to Medium
What happened when Pacific Standard, The Ringer, The Awl, The Bold Italic, and Femsplain moved their sites over to Medium.
What to read next
0BuzzFeed’s Another Round podcast is partnering with a social audio app to let listeners submit their stories
The podcast is working with the app, Rolltape, to make it easier for listeners to submit their own audio.
0In 60 days, drone journalism will be legally possible in any U.S. newsroom
“There are still challenges, and we haven’t even talked about state and local laws that have been piling up while the FAA lumbered toward today. But the future of drones in journalism is much brighter today than it has ever been.”
0Honolulu Civil Beat, after six years of trying life as a for-profit, is becoming a nonprofit after all
The Pierre Omidyar-backed news site is dropping its paywall and launching a membership program as part of the change.
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Circa
The Awl
The Daily Beast
Center for Public Integrity
MSNBC
Lens
Hearst
The Tyee
The Seattle Times
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
WikiLeaks
Hechinger Report