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Nov. 30, 2022, 6:29 p.m.

The Washington Post launches a year in news à la Spotify Wrapped

“We initially built a ‘look-back’ experience but pivoted when we learned that our readers are more interested in insights that center on their reading ‘personality’ and content discovery rather than revisiting news from the past.”

When Spotify Wrapped first launched in December 2016, the streaming company proved user data could be artfully transformed into an engaging product users would share.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post launched its own personalized annual review that shows subscribers insights about the journalism they consumed in 2022 in a similar visual format. It’s technically called “Newsprint,” but almost everyone who shared their stats so far called it some variation of “Washington Post Wrapped.”

For anyone who doesn’t know: Spotify Wrapped is an annual, personalized summary that shows users interesting data points about their listening habits, like their most listened to songs and podcasts and their top genres and artists. (Unsurprisingly, my top artist has been Bad Bunny for multiple years in a row.) It’s packaged vertically like an Instagram story and designed for sharing on social media.

The Washington Post’s version tells readers how many stories they read, how many topics they engaged with, their most read sections of the paper, how many different authors they’ve read, and which writers they read most often. Newsprint also makes suggestions for stories the reader may have missed, newsletters to subscribe to, and other authors to follow. The summary slide shows the factoids as ridges on a fingerprint.

The Post declined to share specific audience numbers, but said it emailed “some” of its subscribers on Wednesday to let them know about the feature. More subscribers will be notified about the feature in mid-December, a spokesperson for the Post said in an email.

Jessica Gilbert, head of product at the Washington Post, said in an email that Newsprint offers a way to further personalize the reader experience.

“We developed Newsprint iteratively throughout 2022, responding to user research and internal feedback,” Gilbert said. “We initially built a ‘look-back’ experience but pivoted when we learned that our readers are more interested in insights that center on their reading ‘personality’ and content discovery rather than revisiting news from the past.”

Annual summary and review products like Spotify Wrapped can be both fun and useful to companies and users. They drum up excitement and can resurface some of the content that prompted people to subscribe in the first place. The Post’s version reminds subscribers of all the journalism they’ve enjoyed, highlights specific reporters that keep the reader coming back for more, and compliments their taste in news.

In both cases, the companies get a pulse on what resonates with users. Subscribers get to learn something (potentially) new about themselves and see what they’re getting by paying for a subscription.

Sharing on social media lets people compare their insights with others, creating engagement between users and between the artists (or journalists) and their audiences. People share screenshots online, creating a stream of content while roasting themselves or doing a little humble bragging. There are always memes.

In 2021, Spotify Wrapped was mentioned in 1.2 million posts on Twitter and its cards were shared nearly 60 million times across multiple social media platforms. Last year, the streaming company’s mobile app downloads increased 21% the week the campaign launched.

Michael Ribero, chief subscriptions officer at the Washington Post, said the Post wants to build on Newsprint and use it as a feature to help “attract new subscribers and increase brand awareness through social sharing” in future years.

If you have a Washington Post subscription, you don’t have to wait for an email. You can generate your personalized Newsprint summary here.

POSTED     Nov. 30, 2022, 6:29 p.m.
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