20200
P
1
20100
R  E
2
2070
D   I   C
3
2050
T   I   O   N
4
2040
S   F   O   R   J
5
2030
O  U  R  N  A  L
6
2020
I  S  M  2  0  2  0
7

The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

“In a news environment where the day’s fifth-most-important story would have been an all-hands-on-deck affair just a few years ago, news consumers have to choose what they’ll read deeply and what they’ll just be superficially aware of.”

For a business that not that long ago had basically zero data on how consumers used its products, the news industry has become obsessed with metrics. We’re seeing a bit of a swing back to the middle of the spectrum, where analytics are now just one piece of a larger puzzle, but we still haven’t mastered how to talk about the value of news alerts in our readers’ most intimate spaces: inboxes, lock screens, and desktop browsers.

With traditional email newsletters, we can look at open rates (how many subscribers opened a particular newsletter) and clickthrough rates (how many people clicked a link) to see how readers are engaging with our products. But that’s harder with breaking news email alerts, where the subject line might contain everything the reader needs to know. They act more like a push notification: It might not need to be opened for readers to appreciate it landing in their inboxes.

The value of an email send, push notification, or browser alert goes beyond its open rate, and talking about that value needs to become more mainstream in our thinking of how all of our notification products work together.

Research from 2017 divided push alerts into four categories: headline, teaser, round-up, and additional context. More than half of the alerts sent in that study were based on breaking news, and it found that the majority provided additional context that went beyond a straight headline.

In a news environment where the day’s fifth-most-important story would have been an all-hands-on-deck affair just a few years ago, news consumers have to choose what they’ll read deeply and what they’ll just be superficially aware of. The reader might not need more than what happened and a slight bit of additional context. So the fact that a push alert didn’t get opened doesn’t mean it wasn’t valuable to the reader.

Push alerts show up in spaces where the interruption is hard to ignore: your phone’s locked screen while you’re trying to fall asleep, your smartwatch while you’re in a meeting, a popup while you’re answering an email. They drain your phone’s battery. Long story short: If someone doesn’t want to receive a push alert, they’ll change their settings. An underrated metric in measuring an alert strategy’s success is simply the number of subscribers a push notification list has. Editors can also look at the lifecycle of an alert subscriber: How long do they stay subscribed? How often do they change their settings?

And now that more news organizations are adopting browser notifications, the industry has to be smarter about how all of these interruptions work together. It can be tempting to push the same alert through all available outlets (or to auto-subscribe new members into these various channels), but we have to be careful to not bombard readers on every platform.

Some newsrooms have advanced tools that allows readers to be explicit in how they want to receive different kinds of news. But for newsrooms without those resources, it can be helpful to be as strategic and thoughtful with sending notifications as you are with editing stories. Just as a story should be only as long as it is interesting, and just as every story should serve the reader in some way, we need to be judicious with our push alerts and think about how pushing on different platforms can be treated like a story package, where the components are complementary to one another.

Rachel Schallom is the deputy editor for digital at Fortune Media.

For a business that not that long ago had basically zero data on how consumers used its products, the news industry has become obsessed with metrics. We’re seeing a bit of a swing back to the middle of the spectrum, where analytics are now just one piece of a larger puzzle, but we still haven’t mastered how to talk about the value of news alerts in our readers’ most intimate spaces: inboxes, lock screens, and desktop browsers.

With traditional email newsletters, we can look at open rates (how many subscribers opened a particular newsletter) and clickthrough rates (how many people clicked a link) to see how readers are engaging with our products. But that’s harder with breaking news email alerts, where the subject line might contain everything the reader needs to know. They act more like a push notification: It might not need to be opened for readers to appreciate it landing in their inboxes.

The value of an email send, push notification, or browser alert goes beyond its open rate, and talking about that value needs to become more mainstream in our thinking of how all of our notification products work together.

Research from 2017 divided push alerts into four categories: headline, teaser, round-up, and additional context. More than half of the alerts sent in that study were based on breaking news, and it found that the majority provided additional context that went beyond a straight headline.

In a news environment where the day’s fifth-most-important story would have been an all-hands-on-deck affair just a few years ago, news consumers have to choose what they’ll read deeply and what they’ll just be superficially aware of. The reader might not need more than what happened and a slight bit of additional context. So the fact that a push alert didn’t get opened doesn’t mean it wasn’t valuable to the reader.

Push alerts show up in spaces where the interruption is hard to ignore: your phone’s locked screen while you’re trying to fall asleep, your smartwatch while you’re in a meeting, a popup while you’re answering an email. They drain your phone’s battery. Long story short: If someone doesn’t want to receive a push alert, they’ll change their settings. An underrated metric in measuring an alert strategy’s success is simply the number of subscribers a push notification list has. Editors can also look at the lifecycle of an alert subscriber: How long do they stay subscribed? How often do they change their settings?

And now that more news organizations are adopting browser notifications, the industry has to be smarter about how all of these interruptions work together. It can be tempting to push the same alert through all available outlets (or to auto-subscribe new members into these various channels), but we have to be careful to not bombard readers on every platform.

Some newsrooms have advanced tools that allows readers to be explicit in how they want to receive different kinds of news. But for newsrooms without those resources, it can be helpful to be as strategic and thoughtful with sending notifications as you are with editing stories. Just as a story should be only as long as it is interesting, and just as every story should serve the reader in some way, we need to be judicious with our push alerts and think about how pushing on different platforms can be treated like a story package, where the components are complementary to one another.

Rachel Schallom is the deputy editor for digital at Fortune Media.

Gordon Crovitz   Fighting misinformation requires journalism, not secret algorithms

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

Matt DeRienzo   Local broadcasters begin to fill the gaps left by newspapers

Linda Solomon Wood   Everyone in your organization, moving toward a common goal

Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

Matthew Pressman   News consumers divide into haves and have-nots

Irving Washington   Leadership isn’t something you learn on the job

Dannagal G. Young   Let’s disrupt the logic that’s driving Americans apart

Bill Grueskin   Our ethics codes get an overhaul

Laura E. Davis   Know the context your journalism is operating within

Alice Antheaume   Trade “politics” for “power”

Geneva Overholser   Death to bothsidesism

Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

An Xiao Mina   The Forum we wanted, the forum we got

Rachel Glickhouse   Journalists get left behind in the industry’s decline

Rachel Davis Mersey   The business of local TV news will enter its downward slide

Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

Richard Tofel   A constraint of the reader-revenue model emerges

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

Kevin D. Grant   The free press stands against authoritarians’ attacks on truth

Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

Carrie Brown-Smith   Engaged journalism: It’s finally happening

Errin Haines   Race and gender aren’t a 2020 story — they’re the story

M. Scott Havens   First-party data becomes media’s most important currency

Mariana Moura Santos   The future of journalism is collaborative

Zizi Papacharissi   A president leads, the press follows, reality fades

Cristina Kim   Public media stops trying to serve “everybody”

Jim Brady   We’ll complain about other people living in bubbles while ignoring our own

Ernie Smith   The death of the industry fad

Meredith Artley   Stronger solidarity among news organizations

Sue Robinson   Campaign coverage as test bed for engagement experiments

Masuma Ahuja   Slower, quieter, more measured and thoughtful

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

Julia B. Chan   We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

Jeremy Gilbert and Jarrod Dicker   A call for collaboration between storytelling and tech

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, collaboration in a time of state attacks

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

Madelyn Sanfilippo and Yafit Lev-Aretz   News coverage gets geo-fragmented

Ståle Grut   OSINT journalism goes mainstream

Josh Schwartz   Publishers move beyond the metered paywall

John Keefe   Journalism gets hacked

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving

Nico Gendron   Make better products if you want to reach Gen Z

Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

Meg Marco   Everything happens somewhere

Emily Withrow   The year we kill the news article

Don Day   Respect the non-paying audience

Colleen Shalby   Journalists become media literacy teachers

Mary Walter-Brown and Tristan Loper   Power to the people (on your audience team)

Imaeyen Ibanga   Let’s take it slow

Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

Raney Aronson-Rath   News deserts will proliferate — but so will new solutions

Cory Haik   We’re already consuming the future of news — now we have to produce it

Logan Molyneux and Shannon McGregor   Think twice before turning to Twitter

Mario García   Think small (screen)

Joe Amditis   Collaborative journalism takes its rightful place at the table

Nathalie Malinarich   Betting on loyalty

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

Kristen Muller   The year we operationalize community engagement

Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

Cindy Royal   Prepare media students for skills, not job titles

Hossein Derakhshan   AI can’t conjure up an Errol Morris

Francesco Zaffarano   TikTok without generational prejudice

Tamar Charney   From broadcast to bespoke

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

Bill Adair   A Nobel Prize, a Brad Pitt film, and a Taylor Swift song

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

S. Mitra Kalita   The race to 2021

Kourtney Bitterly   Transparency isn’t just a desire, it’s an expectation

Jakob Moll   A slow-moving tech backlash among young people

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

Margarita Noriega   The platforms try to figure out what to do with single-subject newsrooms

Elizabeth Hansen and Jesse Holcomb   Local news initiatives run into a capital shortage

Nikki Usher   All systems down

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Doris Truong   The year of radical salary transparency

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

Lucas Graves   A smarter conversation about how (and why) fact-checking matters

Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

Millie Tran   Wicked

Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

Sonali Prasad   Climate change storytelling gets multidimensional

Juleyka Lantigua   A changing industry amps up podcasters’ ambitions

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

Brenda P. Salinas   Treating MP3 files like text

Felix Salmon   Spotify launches a news channel

Heidi Tworek   The year of positive pushback

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The business we want, not the business we had

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized

Jasmine McNealy   A call for context

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

Annie Rudd   The expanded ambiguity of the news photograph

Joanne McNeil   A return to blogs (finally? sort of?)

John Garrett   It’s the best time in a century to start a local news organization

Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

Stefanie Murray   Charitable giving goes collaborative

J. Siguru Wahutu   Western journalists, learn from your African peers

Simon Galperin   Journalism becomes more democratic

Kathleen Searles   Pay more attention to attention

Marie Gilot   This is fine

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action

Joshua P. Darr   All that campaign cash will make the media’s problems worse

Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

A.J. Bauer   A fork in the road for conservative media

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

Barbara Gray   Join local libraries on the frontlines of civic engagement

Carl Bialik   Journalists will try running the whole shop

Rachel Schallom   The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

Adam Thomas   The silver bullet

Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition

Alana Levinson   Brand-backed media gets another look

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

Kerri Hoffman   Opening closed systems

Christa Scharfenberg   It’s time to make journalism a field that supports and respects women

Nicholas Jackson   What’s left of local gets comfortable with reader support

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news