- USA Today added a personalized newsfeed and tailored alerts to the latest version of its mobile app. Its "My Topics" feature lets readers create a customized headline feed and an option for automatic push notifications when the publication runs new stories about a user's selected topics, according to a company blog post shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Each article in the app shows a primary topic beneath the headline, along with an "Add to My Topics" button to create an individualized feed. Within the My Topics list, users will see all articles tagged with topics they've added.
- USA Today Network plans to add the My Topics feature to its other mobile apps this summer, per the blog post. The USA Today mobile app is free to download from Apple's App Store and Google Play.
USA Today's customized newsfeed is the latest step in the media company's efforts to engage mobile users with content that's automatically sifted to meet their individualized preferences. The mobile app includes features to browse or search for national, local, most popular and recommended stories, in addition to an opt-in feature for push notifications on sections such as news, sports, life, money or tech that on-the-go readers can select for more convenient access to content.
These moves come as the publisher continues to test ways to up its mobile game. Last year, USA Today added drag-and-drop features to its app, which makes it easier for users to move text, images and files from one app to another, after Apple included the capability in iOS 11. The publisher has also recently begun to experiment with more immersive storytelling features, including virtual reality (VR) storytelling with its news series, "VRtually There," that issues three new experiences each Thursday for readers looking to consume media in more innovative ways. USA Today released its first-ever AR app “321 Launch” in late March to bring interactive space coverage to its audience.
While mobile devices are transforming media consumption, they're also giving publishers new software tools to engage audiences with their content, a wider variety of platforms for distribution and the ability to test out innovative business models. USA Today last fall introduced an ad-free version of its mobile application for readers who want to avoid interruptions from paying sponsors, though it's not yet clear how this addition has impacted the company's revenue. The ad-free version costs $2.99 a month after a free two-week trial.
The new personalized features come as media companies worldwide are navigating the changing marketplace as the European Union enacts stricter privacy rules that give citizens greater control over their personal data. Because the rule applies to EU citizens anywhere in the world, all companies are likely affected in some way or another. Twitter this week said it will shut down some apps to comply with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that takes effect on May 25.