What’s happening:

What would online news look like today, if it hadn’t evolved from the traditional 800-word print newspaper article? This is a question that the BBC asked, and then sought to answer by brainstorming new online/mobile journalism formats, and testing those prototypes amongst its least engaged audiences: Generation Z and women aged 28-45.

How they did it:

BBC originated several types of new personalised news formats, testing them with these two audiences that show the least engagement. This personalisation included selection and delivery of specific stories based on the individual user, but also went beyond that to attempt personalisation of the story content itself (which the BBC called “adaptation”). These prototypes were also tested against a range of criteria.

Three best-performing prototypes came out of the process:

  • This approach used readers’ geographic personalisation to weave local information into national news stories.
  • This prototype summarised previous articles about a story subject, using bullet points that were gleaned from push alerts from the previous articles in the storyline.
  • While this prototype was admittedly outside the scope of true personalisation, it tested well. This approach presented stories as a headline with a one-line summary; readers could then click for a four-paragraph summary, then click again for the entire story.


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