"Think for a moment – what if you could somehow introduce some aspect of tracking in the news-reading experience?," asked James Webb, group product manager, Financial Times, at Hacks Hackers London last night (16 October).
The publisher has today launched Knowledge Builder, a new tool to help readers take control of the amount of information they read about a topic.
"FT subscribers are knowledge-hungry, but sometimes they struggle with context, knowing what to read next and why."
The tool will track the articles that subscribers read, giving them an indication of the amount of information they have read on a topic, and suggesting further reads to them.
It aims to offer subscribers a more 'satisfying read', making it easier to find the content they need more quickly.
"It's about putting people in control of their knowledge-building process by allowing them to track progress on topics," said Webb.
Every article is worth a certain amount of points, displayed at the top of the page.
When a reader gets to the bottom of the article, they will see four dots which flow into a progress bar, showing them how much they have now learned on that particular topic.
Similarly, when opening a new article on the same topic, they will get shown articles prioritised to them and the amount of points they have, helping them gain more knowledge about that subject.
The tool, which has been funded by a grant from Google's DNI Fund, was developed by the FT and start-up company Crux, who receives meta data of each article, and creates a knowledge base around the topic.
In its initial tests that will be running until the end of the year, the team will look at whether article scores and a progress bar are a compelling way to track topics, knowledge-building and staying on top of what people have read.
"We will be tracking article click-through rates on recommendations versus latest stories, completion rates, the number of stories a user reads in one visit and whether visual cues on articles will help engage lower-engagement users," he said.
"If we can get disengaged users to visit one extra time every 90 days and read just one extra article on a topic they are already engaged on, this could be worth up to £1.5 million a year."
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