Personalization is quickly becoming a key concept in the world of online news. A new study discovered, however, that most readers are reluctant to actively personalize content, preferring to let someone else do the editorial selection.
The Guardian's Roy Greenslade highlighted a recent study by journalism academic Neil Thurman, titled "Making 'The Daily Me': Technology, economics and habit in the mainstream assimilation of personalized news." The key finding of the study, which was preceded by two years of research, was that readers are far less enthusiastic about news personalization than many think. The whole study can be read here.
According to Thurman, "active personalization," such as homepage customization, grew only 20%. Meanwhile, "passive personalization" in the form of news sites filtering and recommending articles based on browsing behaviour, grew by 60% over the same period. The research also suggested that readers are generally unable to accurately predict their news preferences.
Thurman also noted that during the research, The Washington Post, The Sun, The New York Times and The Daily Telegraph all stopped marketing their "My Page" services - a confirmation that readers have been slow to start using the possibility of personalizing their news.
According to Steve Herrmann, the interactive editor of BBC News and one of the editors interviewed for the study, the "time and effort to personalise something" would put off all but a "relatively small number of people".
Thurman singles out Trove, The Washington Post's endeavour in news personalisation, and predicts hard times for it and other similar services. Trove is only one of many news personalization sites that have lately launched. In light of the study's findings, it will be interesting to see how well they fare.
The study's results would confirm the suggestion that there are two groups of online news consumers forming. There are those who appreciate the effortlessness of a news organisation doing the editorial selection. And then there are heavy news users, who know what kind of news they want and like to choose their news sources themselves. According to Thurman's study, the latter group seems to be smaller than many believed.
Sources: The Guardian