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knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 1 / 27
MOBILE NEWS
NOTIFICATIONS:
A TWO-WAVE EXPERIMENT
WITH SMARTPHONE USERS
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 2 / 27
The Engaging News Project is housed
at the Annette Strauss Institute for
Civic ...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 3 / 27
TABLE OF CONTENTS
• OVERVIEW AND METHODOLOGY				 PG. 3
• APP AND SITE TRAFFIC		...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 4 / 27
OVERVIEW AND
METHODOLOGY
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 5 / 27
MOTIVATING QUESTIONS
With the proliferation of smartphones and the ability to s...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 6 / 27
PROJECT-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
Do people who enable news notifications differ from ...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 7 / 27
KEY FINDINGS
•	 Those asked to install an app and allow notifications reported ...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 8 / 27
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
•	 Two-wave experiment using data from 420 adult s...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 9 / 27
SIX EXPERIMENTAL CONDITIONS
Study participants were randomly assigned to one of...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 10 / 27
APPS & SITE TRAFFIC
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 11 / 27
NOTIFICATIONS CAN INCREASE APP USE
Those asked to install the app with notific...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 12 / 27
HALF OF RESPONDENTS REPORTED
GOING TO NEWS APP OR WEBSITE
AFTER RECEIVING NOTI...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 13 / 27
NEWS KNOWLEDGE
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 14 / 27
NOT ALL NOTIFICATIONS
ARE CREATED EQUAL
Given that the information found in ne...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 15 / 27
NOTIFICATIONS CAN INCREASE
KNOWLEDGE, BUT THEY DON’T ALWAYS
40% of those assig...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 16 / 27
AGE DIFFERENCES
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 17 / 27
OLDER RESPONDENTS FAVORED
NEWS NOTIFICATIONS
Older respondents were more satis...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 18 / 27
NOTIFICATIONS: LIKES AND
DISLIKES
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 19 / 27
NOT ALL NOTIFICATIONS
ARE CREATED EQUAL
LIKES
(among those installing notifica...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 20 / 27
UNINSTALLED THE APP
WHY DID YOU UNINSTALL THE APP?
(among those uninstalling t...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 21 / 27
TURNED OFF NOTIFICATIONS
WHY DID YOU TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS?
(among those who ...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 22 / 27
CONCLUSIONS AND NEXT
STEPS
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 23 / 27
CONCLUSIONS
Mobile news notifications …
•	 Prompt more engagement with the org...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 24 / 27
NEXT STEPS
The results show notifications increase learning and
engagement in ...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 25 / 27
METHODOLOCICAL
APPENDIX
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 26 / 27
KNOWLEDGE ABOUT FACTS
FROM THE NOTIFICATIONS
We asked study participants three...
knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 27 / 27
JOHN S. AND JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION
SUITE 3300
200 S. BISCAYNE BLVD.
MIAMI,...
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Mobile News Notifications: A Two-wave Experiment with Smartphone Users

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With the proliferation of smartphones and the ability to send
mobile news notifications …

• Do notifications have an economic benefit for newsrooms? Do they drive traffic to the news app or to the news site?

• Do notifications have a democratic benefit? Do they inform the public or simply provide information that could have been learned elsewhere?

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Mobile News Notifications: A Two-wave Experiment with Smartphone Users

  1. 1. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 1 / 27 MOBILE NEWS NOTIFICATIONS: A TWO-WAVE EXPERIMENT WITH SMARTPHONE USERS
  2. 2. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 2 / 27 The Engaging News Project is housed at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, part of the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. The project tezsts web-based strategies for informing audiences, promoting substantive discourse and helping citizens to understand diverse views, while developing techniques for use in contemporary newsrooms.
  3. 3. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 3 / 27 TABLE OF CONTENTS • OVERVIEW AND METHODOLOGY PG. 3 • APP AND SITE TRAFFIC PG. 9 • NEWS KNOWLEDGE PG. 12 • AGE DIFFERENCES PG. 15 • NOTIFICATIONS: LIKES AND DISLIKES PG. 17 • CONCLUSIONS AND NEXT STEPS PG. 21 • METHODOLOGICAL APPENDIX PG. 24
  4. 4. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 4 / 27 OVERVIEW AND METHODOLOGY
  5. 5. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 5 / 27 MOTIVATING QUESTIONS With the proliferation of smartphones and the ability to send mobile news notifications … • Do notifications have an economic benefit for newsrooms? Do they drive traffic to the news app or to the news site? • Do notifications have a democratic benefit? Do they inform the public or simply provide information that could have been learned elsewhere?
  6. 6. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 6 / 27 PROJECT-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS Do people who enable news notifications differ from those who disable notifications in: • How frequently they use the news app? • How frequently they visit the news site? • How much they learn about current news events? What do people like/dislike about news notifications?
  7. 7. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 7 / 27 KEY FINDINGS • Those asked to install an app and allow notifications reported using the app more frequently than those asked to install the app without allowing notifications. • Notifications significantly increased knowledge in some instances. • Older respondents had greater intentions than younger ones to keep the news notifications installed on their phones. • Half of the respondents who reported allowing notifications said that they went to the app or news organization’s website in response to a notification. • Asked what they liked most about notifications, many mentioned relevant content and useful information. • Asked what they liked least, people often mentioned the frequency of notifications and untailored content.
  8. 8. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 8 / 27 STUDY DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY • Two-wave experiment using data from 420 adult smartphone users. • Data were collected in July and August 2016, using Survey Sampling International and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. • In the first wave, participants were asked, at random, to download the CNN app, the BuzzFeed News app or the E! News app. • We also asked them, again at random, either to enable or disable notifications for the app, resulting in six different experimental conditions. • In the second wave, approximately two weeks later, we asked the study participants to tell us about their experience with the app and notifications.
  9. 9. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 9 / 27 SIX EXPERIMENTAL CONDITIONS Study participants were randomly assigned to one of six conditions: CNN APP CNN APP + NOTIFICATIONS BUZZFEED NEWS APP BUZZFEED NEWS APP + NOTIFICATIONS E! NEWS APP E! NEWS APP + NOTIFICATIONS
  10. 10. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 10 / 27 APPS & SITE TRAFFIC
  11. 11. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 11 / 27 NOTIFICATIONS CAN INCREASE APP USE Those asked to install the app with notifications reported significantly higher app use than those asked to install the app without notifications. 27% of those asked to install the app with notifications used it daily or more often compared to 12% of those asked to install the app without notifications.
  12. 12. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 12 / 27 HALF OF RESPONDENTS REPORTED GOING TO NEWS APP OR WEBSITE AFTER RECEIVING NOTIFICATION Actions after Receiving a Notification Swiped a notification to open the app Went to the news organization’s website to learn more about a notification Searched for more information using a search engine like Google after seeing a notification Turned to social media like Facebook or Twitter because of a notification (CNN only) Turned to CNN because of a notification Note: For those assigned to receive BuzzFeed News or CNN notifications only, there were no significant differences across these two organizations. 58.5% 56.5% 37.1% 23.4% 13.2%
  13. 13. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 13 / 27 NEWS KNOWLEDGE
  14. 14. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 14 / 27 NOT ALL NOTIFICATIONS ARE CREATED EQUAL Given that the information found in news notifications is broadly available, it isn’t clear whether notifications will have a measurable effect on what people know. We found that notifications sometimes increase knowledge, but not always. Future research should determine why some notifications increase knowledge and not others by looking at: • When they’re sent • How they’re crafted • What else is going on in the information environment
  15. 15. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 15 / 27 NOTIFICATIONS CAN INCREASE KNOWLEDGE, BUT THEY DON’T ALWAYS 40% of those assigned to receive CNN news notifications answered all 3 knowledge questions (created based on the notification content) correctly; only 20% of those in the other experimental conditions did so.
  16. 16. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 16 / 27 AGE DIFFERENCES
  17. 17. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 17 / 27 OLDER RESPONDENTS FAVORED NEWS NOTIFICATIONS Older respondents were more satisfied with the notifications than younger respondents and also had more positive attitudes toward notifications and said they were more likely to keep the notifications on their phone after the study ended. Seventeen percent of 18-29 year olds said that they were very likely to keep the notifications on their phone compared to 27% of 30-49 year olds and 37% of 50+ year olds.
  18. 18. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 18 / 27 NOTIFICATIONS: LIKES AND DISLIKES
  19. 19. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 19 / 27 NOT ALL NOTIFICATIONS ARE CREATED EQUAL LIKES (among those installing notifications, n=207) • The content is interesting, relevant, and helps them stay informed (63.4%) –– “It was informative about recent topics. Olympics, presidential election etc.” –– “Got breaking news that I wasn’t expecting.” DISLIKES (among those installing notifications, n=207) • Content (32.4%) –– “Because it was not tailored to my needs and gave me information on things I do not care about.” • Quantity and timing (20.8%) –– “Too many.” –– “Times it would go off.” Responses are from 207 participants who installed notifications. Multiple responses were permitted; the most common categories are reported above.
  20. 20. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 20 / 27 UNINSTALLED THE APP WHY DID YOU UNINSTALL THE APP? (among those uninstalling the app, n=48) • Did not use it or enjoy it (39.6%) –– “It is useless.” • Device or data plans (37.5%) –– “I got a new phone.” –– “I didn’t want to use up all my memory.” • Content (22.9%) –– “The app did not have news that interested me.”
  21. 21. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 21 / 27 TURNED OFF NOTIFICATIONS WHY DID YOU TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS? (among those who turned off notifications, n=30) • Content (33.3%) –– “The information they were giving me didn’t feel relevant enough for the distraction.” –– “I was getting notified about things I couldn’t possibly care about.” • Quantity and timing (30.0%) –– “Too many.” –– “Waking me up at night.” • General distaste for notifications (26.7%) –– “I don’t like app notifications in general.” –– “I found them to be obtrusive and annoying after a while.” Responses are from 30 participants who turned off notifications. Multiple responses were permitted; the most common categories are reported above.
  22. 22. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 22 / 27 CONCLUSIONS AND NEXT STEPS
  23. 23. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 23 / 27 CONCLUSIONS Mobile news notifications … • Prompt more engagement with the organization’s app and website. • Can help people to learn more, but don’t do so in all circumstances. There are important demographic differences; age in particular emerges as an important factor This methodology can yield helpful insights about user preferences
  24. 24. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 24 / 27 NEXT STEPS The results show notifications increase learning and engagement in some instances, but not all • We need to know more about which types of notifications increase learning and engagement. • We should explore whether there are novel strategies for sparking learning and engagement, such as what The Guardian has been doing with web notifications. The results show interest in the ability to tailor notifications • We need to know how this option would affect learning and engagement. • We need to know what sort of tailoring is most desired and most helpful (for example, topic, time of day, number of alerts, etc.).
  25. 25. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 25 / 27 METHODOLOCICAL APPENDIX
  26. 26. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 26 / 27 KNOWLEDGE ABOUT FACTS FROM THE NOTIFICATIONS We asked study participants three types of news knowledge questions: 1. News content that was included in both the CNN and BuzzFeed News notifications 2. News content that was included in the BuzzFeed News notifications, but not the CNN or E! News notifications 3. News content that was included in the CNN notifications, but not the BuzzFeed News or E! News notifications For the first two, there were no differences across the conditions • Those who received notifications from CNN or BuzzFeed News were not more knowledgeable than other participants about content covered in both organizations’ notifications. • Those assigned to receive BuzzFeed News notifications were not more knowledgeable about BuzzFeed News notification content than other participants. There were differences for the third (see slide 14)
  27. 27. knightfoundation.org | @knightfdn | 27 / 27 JOHN S. AND JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION SUITE 3300 200 S. BISCAYNE BLVD. MIAMI, FL 33131-2349 TELEPHONE: (305) 908-2600

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