The New York Times has launched beta620 – a public site that invites online news enthusiasts to try experimental content offerings from the newspaper. The Times is making clear that online news readers are key audiences, and it demonstrates to marketers that the demand for news content is strong – as is the need to adapt to user-generated content.
Beta620 is a space that invites feedback to improve readers’ experiences (and keep engaged traffic flowing to The Times’ site). The experimental projects for news content showcased on beta620 may eventually go on to become part of NYTimes.com.
A number of the featured experiments demonstrate that consumers are increasingly looking for new opportunities to search for news and find news content recommended by friends. For example, TimesInstant presents news headline results as searchers type to “[help] users find the content they’re looking for faster, and [let] them modify their query based on the results.”
Brafton has reported that a large portion of Americans now search for news online. Pew research indicates that 75 percent of U.S. internet users look for news online. The source found that searching for news content is a rapidly rising online activity across demographics, which means news content marketing might go a long way in engaging various audiences.
With beta620, The New York Times also acknowledges that consumers engage the news content they find online. CommunityHub offers readers a dashboard of comments, ratings and other social activity surrounding news content, and the company has plans to offer personalized news recommendations according to Facebook friends’ comments.
“Our software engineers, journalists, product managers and designers are constantly striving to create new and innovative ways to present news and information and interact with our readers,” says New York Times staff member Joe Fiore.
Marketers will want to see how the platform develops. At present, projects are submitted by beta620 employees only (though any user can provide suggestions). The experiments might offer insights on innovative new media techniques that content marketers can apply to their own campaigns.