News targets commuters with new app

The Daily Telegraph has created a new app, a game which is designed to entertain and engage bus commuters with Telegraph content.

The software, called Matcha, allows users to score points by matching a Telegraph headline with its accompanying photograph. They can score more points if they then visit the mobile website to read the story once they have successfully matched the headline and the image.

The newspaper’s digital editor Peter Brown said the app was intended to gamify news – that is, to turn news content into a game, and drive engagement.

“It essentially draws in stories from The Daily Telegraph which is entertainment, sport and business, and … you win points by the amount of time it takes you to match the headline to the picture,” Mr Brown said.

“Some of the feedback that we did get is that people are reading more stories than they normally would. It’s certainly a different way for people to engage with our content,” he said.

The game only works on specific buses which have been enabled with a specialist Bluetooth transmitter, called a beacon. That technology was rolled out in partnership with APN.

In theory, it would allow commuters to play directly against their fellow passengers. Currently, however, they play against anyone else who uses the app on a combined scoreboard.

The app was trialled over Christmas on 50 buses. It will continue to run on those buses while News assesses the data it collected and determines the next move.

“We launched it with very little fanfare, we had a nice amount of download. What we were finding was about 17 minutes of engagement, which is a normal sort of bus trip for most of Sydney’s commuters,” Mr Brown said.

He said that the app was a continuation of News Corp Australia’s efforts to target commuters, which it does already with its mX daily.

“For us it’s a captive market, rather than a captivated market, if that makes sense,” he told The Newspaper Works.

“When you’re sitting in your seat, whether it’s on the train or the bus, there are dozens of distractions that commuters can indulge themselves in, Facebook and Twitter and specific app games.

“This is just another way for us to play in that space.”

The app came out of a News Foundry 54 session, an idea development “hothouse” run by News Corp Australia where developers, editorial staff and sales staff come together to brainstorm and flesh out new product ideas over a 54-hour period.

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