Whenever The New York Times breaks a big story, within 24 hours, 60 percent of all global traffic to that story typically comes via push notifications, particularly if it breaks over a weekend. That’s not due to the magnitude of the news alone but a carefully crafted push-alerts strategy executed by a dedicated 11-person team in the U.S. Now, the publisher is ramping up how it tailors push notifications to be more locally relevant to its international markets, starting with the U.K. and Australia.
“For a long time, push notifications were really a broadcast experience. You hit the publish button, and it lights up on millions of phones. But people expect more granular control now,” said Andrew Phelps, New York Times product chief. “The Times is trying to become a truly global news organization, in the way that we became a truly national one. Push notifications are a natural extension to how we reach new audiences.”
Although it’s rare for the Times to send a push alert that’s limited to the U.S., there are some news alerts which naturally just won’t generate the same cultural resonance or interest in other countries, like an update on a baseball star, for example. That’s why in June the Times ran a monthlong test campaign in the U.K., comparing users who received up to three extra weekly, targeted push notifications versus a control group who received standard global push notifications — of typically two to three a day.