We dug into the data behind 17 days of Ukraine coverage on the Breaking News app, and it presents a fascinating view of how people personalized a big story over time.
The blue represents when people alerted the Ukraine story, choosing to receive a push notification whenever there’s a significant development. This group wants to know immediately when something happens, and they activated alerts at high points of the story. Users set the most alerts on February 2nd when the new Ukrainian leadership said Russia had declared war.
The red represents when people muted the story, hiding subsequent updates from their feed. This group wanted to avoid the story altogether, and their numbers grew as the story stretched on. However, you’ll notice peaks in “unmuting” activity — the lighter red — as some of these users decided to resume Ukraine updates as the likelihood of war intensified.
While most Breaking News users are content with getting Ukraine updates in their feed, these two groups illustrate that breaking news means something different to everyone. In a world where everything is increasingly “breaking news,” it’s our goal to provide a real-time experience that rises above the noise, anticipates your unique needs and respects your time.
How Breaking News users personalized their Olympics
Thousands of Breaking News users tracked the 2014 Olympics on their own terms, muting stories to avoid spoilers or personalizing push notifications to ping them with results of their favorite events. We published over 600 Olympics updates in our mobile app, and we thought it would be fun to break down some of the numbers.
Let’s start with spoilers. This graph illustrates when people tapped the “mute” button to avoid seeing Olympics updates, which we posted in real time. Many users muted as the Games began, but others were more selective, hitting mute before some of the most popular events:
Leading up to the larger events, we warned users in the app with editor’s notes that our coverage was about to begin, triggering a new wave of muting activity. Collectively, more people muted the Olympics than any story before it, but the majority of users chose to learn the results in real time.
Users could also set up their own push alerts for their favorite events. The five most popular were figure skating, hockey, skiing, curling and bobsledding. Curling news alerts? Yup.
Finally, we compiled the biggest “whoa” updates throughout the Olympics. These are the most surprising stories ranked by the number of users who tapped the “whoa” button:
With the Olympics behind us, we’ll be publishing new data from time to time that examines how users personalize Breaking News during big stories. And if you don’t have the app, give us a try. We believe you deserve a breaking news experience that rises above the noise, anticipates your needs and respects your time.
We’re one week into the 2014 Winter Olympics and we’re seeing some polarizing data from Breaking News users.
Since the Olympics began on Feb. 6, ”2014 Sochi Olympics” has become our most muted topic ever as users choose to avoid spoilers and consume Olympics coverage in their own time. And while more users are muting “2014 Sochi Olympics” than anything else, it is also our second-most alerted topic, meaning many users want real-time alerts on the Olympics.
Breaking News editors have published around 225 news items since events first began in Sochi on Feb. 6, including news on cultural moments, weather reports, pictures, video and of course, event results. When it comes to event results specifically, Breaking News users are choosing a spoiler-free experience. Nearly three times as many users are choosing to mute “Olympics event results” as oppose to alerting it.
Our users are also reacting to news that surprises them by hitting the Whoa! button and sharing the news that surprises them. Shaun White’s failure to secure a medal in the halfpipe competition is our most Whoa’d Olympics moment to date. On our social media accounts, US bobsledder Johnny Quinn’s cartoon-like escape from a locked bathroom is the most shared social post with more than 34,000 notes on Tumblr and nearly 700 shares on Facebook.
There are still lots of Olympic events to come and it’s not too late to customize your Breaking News experience. Our Breaking News apps let you decide what’s breaking to you. Your Olympics, your way.
The world is defaulting to Sochi time as thousands of athletes, politicians, journalists and spectators gather in Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
During the 2012 Olympics in London, we saw an outcry from users across news sites, apps and social media who were trying to dodge event results until they were televised in primetime. For many news organizations, including our own, it was counter to what we do – we report the news as it happens. At Breaking News, we called an audible and decided to stop tweeting and sending push alerts with results. Instead, we published real-time results to our apps and website and used Twitter and push alerts to tell users they could come get the information if they wanted it. Not the most graceful solution, but it solved the problem and we heard from many appreciative users.
We learned a lot from that experience. Users are not a homogenous group that all want the same thing. Personalization and customization are an essential part of any news experience, but especially a mobile experience.
The Breaking News app for iOS and Android allows users to experience a spoiler-free Olympics with just a simple tap of the screen. Avoid event results entirely by clicking the mute icon on the Olympics event results topic tag. Want to avoid all Olympics coverage, period? Click the mute icon on the 2014 Sochi Olympics topic tag.
CONTROL YOUR UPDATES
Our editors will be following the games and publishing updates on the events, as well as culturally significant moments (Team USA uniforms, anyone?) and related hard news, like protests and security threats. We’re organizing and sorting those updates to make it easy for you to customize your app experience.
Maybe you’re a big fan of figure skating and you can’t wait until after work to know if Gracie Gold lands her jumps, but you also want to wait for the broadcast of the US-Canada men’s hockey game. Maybe you’re just not into skiing and you want to skip seeing those results altogether.
You can get push notifications for the Olympic events you’re most passionate about by clicking the alert icons on the event topic tags. You can also save those event tags as “favorites” for a custom stream in the app. And you can avoid specific events by clicking the mute icons:
Breaking News lets you decide what’s breaking to you. Your Olympics, your way.
When you open the app, you’ll see a real-time feed of everything by default.
ALERT - Tap the alarm bell above an item to get real-time push notifications whenever news breaks about that specific topic. With custom alerts, you don’t even need to open the app. Just glance at your phone and you’re up to date.
MUTE - Hide stories you don’t want to see updates on. You can mute topics that annoy you (Justin Bieber, anyone?) and also things you don’t want spoiled - just in time for the Olympics!
WHOA! - Not all news is like-worthy, so we’ve created something new. Tap the “Whoa!” button to register your surprise to a breaking update. You can also alert your friends on social media, email or SMS. As you “Whoa!” updates in real-time, you help power a list of the most surprising stories, photos and videos at the bottom of the feed.
It’s been over four years since our Breaking News editors began sifting through social media, identifying reliable reports in real time and discarding rumors along the way. From Hurricane Sandy to the Boston Marathon bombing, we have a terrific track record of getting things right, and users have grown to trust our curation.
After a few weeks of experimentation, we’re now providing occasional glimpses into our real-time newsroom. We’re calling them editor’s notes, and we’re publishing them in our apps and BreakingNews.com. Here’s a note we published during a series of bombings in Egypt:
Editor’s notes offer context surrounding a breaking story, advisories of upcoming events, unique sources we’re seeing and warnings about potential misinformation circulating in social media. It’s essential guidance from our experienced team of journalists to help you quickly navigate the increasingly noisy world of breaking news.
They’re also a handy heads-up if you want to alert or mute a story before it begins:
We’re just getting started, so please feel free to give us your feedback on what you’d like to see. Each note is signed by one of our on-duty editors.
News organizations everywhere are going Bieber crazy, sending push notifications and adorning their home pages with the news that he was arrested in Miami Beach.
But at Breaking News, we believe in letting you decide what’s breaking news. We didn’t blast out a Bieber push notification to everyone, and many users are enjoying Bieber-free bliss in our iOS app and BreakingNews.com. Simply tap the mute button to make Bieber stories disappear. Poof!
In fact, Justin Bieber is our most-muted topic of the day by a long shot. Happy muting!
In the news business, weekends have always been a bit of an afterthought. But in the world of mobile, Saturdays and Sundays are taking on new significance.
Take this last Sunday as an example: Breaking News broke all-time mobile records without an earth-shattering story. There was plenty of news: frigid weather across most of the US, the Aspen plane crash, the Manhattan high-rise fire and the NFL playoffs, but typically record traffic is driven by a major and unexpected breaking news event.
We set new single-day records for visits, shares and “whoas” — the cold weather story was whoa’d the most, followed by the plane crash — with thousands of users personalizing our iOS app by muting and alerting stories. (Learn more about our new app.)
We’ve seen the mobile weekend trend intensify over the last few months. Both FT.com and The Guardian have documented the effect, and news organizations are beginning to notice that mobile traffic is surpassing the desktop on weekends first, weekdays second. As more people shift news consumption to mobile, they’re taking the news with them as they navigate their weekends, either out and about on smartphones or lounging around on a tablet.
For news organizations that traditionally allocate more coverage resources on Monday through Friday, the mobile weekend is sparking some rethinking about how to best schedule editors and reporters. The same goes for evenings and nights, which also attract a spike in mobile usage.
As mobile shows no signs of slowing down, this will be a fascinating year to watch.