Publishers Struggle With Mobile Notifications

There's a lot to figure out.

Some media outlets are having a difficult time with mobile notifications. Part of the problem is that—surprise!—readers likely treat the tiny alerts as the whole story even though they clearly aren’t.

“I would bet money that most users read most alerts to get general awareness of what’s going on in news, but open and tap on only a handful of them,” Sasha Koren, editor of the Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab, told CJR. “I have no data to back this up, but if true, it suggests that the alert may often be the sum total of what those users know about a topic.”

Another issue for publishers is how to correct false push notifications. Without reliable information about how many readers actually receive the alerts, there’s no clear cut way to fact check an incorrect message that was just beamed to thousands of people.

Then there’s the technical side of notifications. Sometimes alerts are sent too soon, sometimes they’re sent to only some readers, etc. Publishers also often don’t know how many readers actually click through on alerts or simply see it and then read the related article on their computers.

There’s clearly a lot of obstacles here, but media outlets can’t afford to take a wait-and-see approach. Mobile is the future, and push notifications are a big part of it.