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City University research shows rapid growth of personalised news services

May 12th, 2011Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Automatic personalised news services in UK and US are growing at three times the rate of reader customisation services, according to new report.

Research published by City University today, as carried out by senior lecturer in electronic publishing Neil Thurman, suggests that from 2007 to 2009, personalisation by readers only grew by 20 per cent.

In comparison passive personalisation, where news websites filter and recommend articles based on user browsing behaviour “is outstripping active user customisation by a factor of three” with 60 per cent growth. And since then, Thurman told Journalism.co.uk, a third study at the end of last year appears to show the trend continuing, with social media and mobile playing an increasing role in adding personalisation functionality.

The research was carried out through a series of interviews with senior editors of major news outlets in the UK and US, including Times Online and BBC News Interactive, as well as content analysis of the news sites of these organisations.

This included features such as widgets and SMS alerts, as well as homepage customisation and “contextual recommendations” where contextually-related links are automatically generated from individual stories to other content.

“Although some are saying that personalised news sites are ‘all the rage’, this research is a warning to new sites like Trove, that readers are reluctant to take on the role of editorial selection, and still enjoy serendipitous discovery,” Thurman said in a release today.

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