A new era of online publishing where readers are served ‘hyperpersonal’ news directly linked to their interests is taking shape, according to a consultant for world publishing body WAN-IFRA.
Stephan Minard told the organisation’s summer university in Paris, that personalisation would be the key element that will make modern news websites successful in the coming years.
Publishers needed to learn more about their readers, build up data on them and then serve an experience that is unique to them. Algorithms, not editors, were the new gatekeepers, he said.
Minard said news organisations could learn a lot from the world of marketing and e-commerce: “Personalisation is not science-fiction. It’s everywhere on the web – Google, Facebook, Amazon.”
Combining subscriber data, behavioural research and other data on a reader’s interests and habits, sites should be able to build a reliable picture of a user and serve content that is personalised to them.
Minard gave the example of the Washington Post, which launched personalised social news site Trove in April, which relies on a user’s Facebook interests to define their profile.
However, he issued a warning about offering content that was too personalised. There was a risk of isolating users in a “web of one” by only serving them material about a very tightly defined subject and cutting them off from the wider world.