News app trends: Top 10 breaking news stories of 2018 (so far)

Aug 2, 2018 | Content marketing

The birth of the royal baby was the story which most resonated with the UK public in the first half of 2018, according to new research looking at push notifications sent on each day by UK news and media apps.

The data, from Urban Airship, provides an alternative view of the most popular stories, using push notification data from Urban Airship’s platform to rank popularity based on notification open rate.

The birth of the royal baby has been the best received news story of the year (Open rate: 4.94%), followed by the build-up to the royal wedding (OR: 3.55%), and Donald Trump’s cancellation of the nuclear summit with North Korea (OR: 3.26%).

According to Reuters, mobile news notifications have grown significantly in the last year, particularly as more people rely on their smartphones for keeping on top of what’s happening in the world.  Interestingly the engagement seen on the days listed below is 4x higher than the overall average for media and news apps with a range between 2.94% and 4.94%.

Media notifications often see lower direct open rates than other verticals as they tend to send a higher volume of notifications and the message itself often conveys everything the user needs to know in that moment. However, by looking at direct interaction rates, editors can get a better idea of what resonates most with their audience. Media apps may even want to pay more attention to opt-out rates associated with different messages, to further refine what’s alert-worthy and to whom.

Top 10 news days by number of push notifications & open rate:

Nigel Arthur, MD EMEA & APAC, Urban Airship said: “To prevent alienating readers, media organisations are using data analytics to measure engagement with each story, and ultimately, each notification they send. Every story someone reads, notification they click, or button they tap provides useful insight into a reader’s interests and affinities that can enrich customer data for future use. If someone has read two or more articles about the Royal Family, chances are high they’ll appreciate or at least won’t mind hearing more. This is why we’re seeing such increased engagement, as demonstrated here.”

The fact that some engagement rates for stories, such as the Royal Baby, are much higher than the industry average indicates growing receptivity towards using push notifications to surface breaking news, driving people to other channels, whether in-app, websites, social media or broadcast. This theory is further supported by the fact that Saturdays often see some of the highest engagement rates of the week. In fact, 40% of the top 50 most engaging news days fell over the weekend – from Friday through to Sunday. Weekends typically provide people with more opportunity to read traditional print media, peruse social media feeds or watch broadcast news segments, however push notifications are often the catalyst, as well as the core mechanism for engaging experiences like live streams with smartphones never further than arm’s reach in our waking, working and relaxing moments.

Nigel continued: “The goal for media organisations is to boost loyalty and earn a good reputation for the stories they run, which in turn increases audience traffic, boosts engagement and ultimately opens up new advertising revenue opportunities. As the data shows, the opportunity for this lies squarely in ensuring that the notifications which are pushed to each individual reader are as relevant and timely as possible, according to their personal preferences.”


Analysis included more than 350 news & media apps from the UK and the notifications they sent from January – June 2018. The “notification open rate” metrics are based on direct taps of notifications resulting in app opens.

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