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No, Mobile News Alerts Don’t Really Have To “Get On Your Nerves”

Last week, Julia Greenberg from Wired wrote an interesting story titled
All Those Mobile News Alerts Are Getting On Your Nerves”:

Mobile news alerts are becoming the norm. … Many of you
hate them so much so that you’ve turned all alerts off. But even if you
do get them, you don’t really like them.

So, publishers and news apps want to send news alerts to everyone.  Julia Greenberg writes “for publishers, these kind of alerts are an unprecedented way of grabbing readers’ attention and distributing information,” and quotes Wall Street Journal Chief Innovation Officer Edward Roussel saying “The phone is the new battleground for the media.”

But readers and app users find most of these alerts noisy and annoying.  The reason is simple: most news apps’ news alerts are generic, not personalized. They are sending THE SAME alerts to everyone!

In the era of the Internet, social media, and smart phones, why are news apps and publishers using these new technologies to send the same content to everyone regardless of who they are and their specific interests?  Providing generic news headlines is something you could do over 100 years ago with printed newspapers!  Using a modern channel like mobile push notifications for non-personalized content is a huge waste of technology.

Two days after this Wired story, I was on the Macworld podcast.  During this episode of the podcast, host Glenn Fleishman told me “you are the only thing I allow besides text messages and one other thing to buzz my phone. I let Slack buzz my phone, I let Nuzzel, and text messages, and nothing else. And with the threshold of 7, almost everything that comes up is something that I do want to read.  I almost never think, Oh, why am I seeing that?”

Glenn from Macworld is not the only person who has told us that Nuzzel is one of the few apps for whom they’ve granted push notification permissions. Again, the reason is simple: Nuzzel’s news alerts are automatically personalized to each recipient.  Nuzzel determines an intelligent default alert threshold for each user, which they can tweak if desired, and then only sends news alerts for stories that have been shared by at least that number of friends.



Nuzzel does not send the same news alerts to everyone, only the most important content that matters to each user.  And Nuzzel does not ask users to do a lot of work by trying to enter all of the topics they are interested in.  Our social-based approach automatically handles relevancy and importance by harnessing social signals and the wisdom of crowds.

Our innovative approach to personalized news alerts is so exciting, we filed a patent application for it earlier this year.

Glenn is not the only journalist who uses Nuzzel news alerts. You can frequently see journalists making inside jokes on Twitter about what things are worthy of triggering Nuzzel alerts.

Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times has remarked that “a better metric than traffic, for an online writer, is whether your get a Nuzzel alert for your own stories”.

Owen Williams of The Next Web has written “Nuzzel has become the only news app that I actually let alert me on iPhone.“

Christopher Mims of the Wall Street Journal wrote “Nuzzel alerts about trending New Yorker pieces are how I get excited to read those stories in print.”

What’s next for Nuzzel news alerts?  Right now, registered Nuzzel user can use our iOS or Android apps to get personalized news alerts from their main Nuzzel feed.  Soon we will be expanding this to let anyone with a smartphone get Nuzzel news alerts for any public Nuzzel feed, including both users’ public feeds, as well as feeds based on topics & communities.