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.

Nikki Usher   All systems down

Jakob Moll   A slow-moving tech backlash among young people

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

Richard J. Tofel   A constraint of the reader-revenue model emerges

Marie Gilot   This is fine

Alana Levinson   Brand-backed media gets another look

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

Kathleen Searles   Pay more attention to attention

Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

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

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Adam Thomas   The silver bullet

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action

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

L. Gordon Crovitz   Fighting misinformation requires journalism, not secret algorithms

Imaeyen Ibanga   Let’s take it slow

Colleen Shalby   Journalists become media literacy teachers

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

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

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

Felix Salmon   Spotify launches a news channel

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

Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

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

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

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

Sue Robinson   Campaign coverage as test bed for engagement experiments

Julia B. Chan   We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

Alice Antheaume   Trade “politics” for “power”

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

Jasmine McNealy   A call for context

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

Nathalie Malinarich   Betting on loyalty

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

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized

Don Day   Respect the non-paying audience

Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

Ståle Grut   OSINT journalism goes mainstream

Joe Amditis   Collaborative journalism takes its rightful place at the table

Mariana Moura Santos   The future of journalism is collaborative

Tamar Charney   From broadcast to bespoke

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

Logan Molyneux and Shannon McGregor   Think twice before turning to Twitter

Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition

Brenda P. Salinas   Treating MP3 files like text

Heidi Tworek   The year of positive pushback

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

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

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

Annie Rudd   The expanded ambiguity of the news photograph

Emily Withrow   The year we kill the news article

Carl Bialik   Journalists will try running the whole shop

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

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

Kristen Muller   The year we operationalize community engagement

Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

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

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

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

Barbara Gray   Join local libraries on the frontlines of civic engagement

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

Rachel Schallom   The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

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

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

Cindy Royal   Prepare media students for skills, not job titles

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

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

Meg Marco   Everything happens somewhere

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

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

Ernie Smith   The death of the industry fad

Bill Grueskin   Our ethics codes get an overhaul

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

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

Geneva Overholser   Death to bothsidesism

Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

Doris Truong   The year of radical salary transparency

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

Hossein Derakhshan   AI can’t conjure up an Errol Morris

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

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

Mario García   Think small (screen)

Kerri Hoffman   Opening closed systems

John Keefe   Journalism gets hacked

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news

Simon Galperin   Journalism becomes more democratic

Matthew Pressman   News consumers divide into haves and have-nots

Stefanie Murray   Charitable giving goes collaborative

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

S. Mitra Kalita   The race to 2021

Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

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

Meredith Artley   Stronger solidarity among news organizations

Cristina Kim   Public media stops trying to serve “everybody”

Millie Tran   Wicked

Francesco Zaffarano   TikTok without generational prejudice

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

Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

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

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

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

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

Masuma Ahuja   Slower, quieter, more measured and thoughtful

james Wahutu   Western journalists, learn from your African peers

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

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

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

Sonali Prasad   Climate change storytelling gets multidimensional

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving

Josh Schwartz   Publishers move beyond the metered paywall

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

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

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

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   A changing industry amps up podcasters’ ambitions

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