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Publishers need to find balance with notification trial and error

Publishers have quickly realized the power of mobile notifications in drawing people back to content, so naturally they’re at risk of overdoing it.

“This is a classic commons problem,” said Andrew McLaughlin, the co-founder of Betaworks. “It’s a space where if everybody behaves badly, everything gets trashed.”

Over the past five or six years, notifications have grown from a curiosity into a major source of traffic and engagement. The right push can drive up to 60 percent of the traffic a New York Times story gets in a given day, and publishers from USA Today to The Guardian used push notifications as a way to drive massive spikes in app usage during the Olympics and the 2016 presidential race. Publishers including Mic and the Washington Post report that the readers who visit their sites via notifications stay there longer, too.

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