Facebook Launches Notify App for the iPhone, Testing the Tolerance of Readers

The social network Facebook released its anticipated news app Notify yesterday afternoon, one built on the premise that iPhone users want plenty of notifications. Officially called Notify by Facebook – Notifications that matter, the app will test the limits of how much a person wants to stay connected.

Facebook-Notify-iPhone“Notifications are becoming one of the primary ways people first learn about things wherever they are. Today we are introducing Notify, a new app from Facebook that delivers timely notifications about the things that matter to you, from the sources you love, all in one place,” said Julian Gutman, Product Manager at Facebook.

Facebook had no problem lining up media partners for the app. When first installed and opened, the user must select at least three “stations” that will provide the content for the app. There are categories such as News, Local, Sports, Business, Politics, Entertainment and more, with three content providers seen up front and more available.

Media companies such as The New York Times, Vox Media, Fox News, CNN are easily found and added.

The app may be designed to appeal to publishers more that actual users, a peace offering, if you will. But the app itself will succeed only if Facebook users migrate to it, something that seems highly unlikely.

Recently Facebook added its Instant Articles to its main Facebook app, a development that seemed to work best for publishers. Here, once again. publishers are asked to surrender their content on the hopes that they will be paid, while the app developer – in this case Facebook – only has to develop the app. There is no end to this kind of thing, with the only thing unique about this one is that it bares the Facebook name.

“If only there were a way for publishers to reach their readers directly, right?!” The Verge says rather sarcastically in its review of the app. “Except that app development and maintenance is difficult and costly, and also the average number of apps a person downloads each month is zero. And so for salvation publishers now look once again to … Facebook, which built them an iOS app that tells them everything they want to hear except perhaps how they’re going to get people to use it.”

That these major media companies would have jumped on board the Notify train so quickly after the Instant Articles experiment feels rushed and premature to me. The first experiment has yet to lead to good results, if yesterday’s WSJ article is accurate.

According to the story, publishers are not getting the result they want, and are a bit annoyed by Facebook’s restrictions such as not allowing animated or interactive ads.

“You have to analyze many factors to determine the monetization potential,” said Jed Hartman, chief revenue officer at The Washington Post. “You have fewer impressions per page view than we presently do, so you have to balance that, and you don’t have all the animation we can sell on our own site.”

D. B. Hebbard

View posts by D. B. Hebbard
Douglas Hebbard (or if you are using D.B. Hebbard use that) is a 30+ year veteran of the newspaper and magazine publishing business, and has been publisher of the digital publishing website Talking New Media since 2010.

1 Comment

  1. Nate Hoffelder12 November, 2015

    You’re not wrong about the annoyance level. I read numerous complaints yesterday about the excess number of notifications.


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