HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Newsonomics: BuzzFeed and The New York Times play Facebook’s ubiquity game
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.
Newsonomics: BuzzFeed and The New York Times play Facebook’s ubiquity game
The ubiquity game has different rules for digital startups than for legacy businesses. But for both, figuring out the right relationship with Facebook is key to their audience strategies.
Jeff Israely: Good content marketing benefits from a smart publisher’s touch
Our startup correspondent, building Worldcrunch in Paris, on the thinking behind its operation’s pivot: “The smart brands know they’ll lose your attention if they use this new publishing power simply to push their merchandise.”
How a hobby foreign affairs blog became a paywalled news destination — and a business
World Politics Review has grown from one man’s side project to a small news operation supported by a niche paywall.
What to read next
2481
tweets
Millennials say keeping up with the news is important to them — but good luck getting them to pay for it
The new report from the Media Insight Project looks at millennials’ habits and attitudes toward news consumption: “I really wouldn’t pay for any type of news because as a citizen it’s my right to know the news.”
926The next stage in the battle for our attention: Our wrists
News companies have moved from print dollars to digital dimes to mobile pennies. Now, with the highly anticipated launch of the Apple Watch, the screens are getting even smaller. How are smart publishers thinking about the right way to serve users and maintain their attention on smartwatches?
729A wave of distributed content is coming — will publishers sink or swim?
Instead of just publishing to their own websites, news organizations are being asked to publish directly to platforms they don’t control. Is the hunt for readers enough to justify losing some independence?
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
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 ➚
WikiLeaks
Hechinger Report
La Nación
The Dish
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Creative Commons
The Orange County Register
Center for Investigative Reporting
PBS NewsHour
The Guardian
BuzzFeed
The Seattle Times