Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Pacific Content’s podcasts are all sponsored by companies — but at least there aren’t any ads
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.
Pacific Content’s podcasts are all sponsored by companies — but at least there aren’t any ads
Branded podcasts want to break out of the traditional intrusive model of advertising: “There are no interruptions for two or three minutes in the middle of a story. There are no top and tail ad breaks. There are no coupon codes.”
Hot Pod: What should an on-demand news podcast look like?
Plus: Remixing podcast talent to build new shows, Google prepares to enter the market in a big way, and how to avoid “radiosplaining.”
Newsonomics: The New York Times restarts its new-product model, in Spanish
After a few expensive misfires, the Times is building new products on a smaller, more targeted scale.
What to read next
0
tweets
Out of many, NPR One: The app that wants to be the “Netflix of listening” gets more local
A big update moves NPR One yet another step in the direction of becoming a one-stop shop for all audio content, from local newscasts to podcasts outside the NPR world.
0Need to find, keep, and maximize talent today? Look to an old-school example, Gene Roberts
“Virtually every hire should be part of a long-range master plan of journalistic excellence.”
0The New York Times and WBUR are bringing ‘Modern Love’ essays to life with sounds and celebrity reads
“We’re trying to touch people just through sound, in a really profound way.”
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
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 ➚
Global Voices
Slate
O Globo
Outside.in
Poynter Institute
The Wall Street Journal
Investigative Reporting Workshop
Next Door Media
The Miami Herald
Public Radio International
Fox News
Honolulu Civil Beat