By Madelyn Sanfilippo, a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, and Yafit Lev-Aretz, an assistant professor of law at the Zicklin School of Business of CUNY’s Baruch College, writing at Nieman Lab:
Personalization and social filtering have both been widely leveraged to maximize user engagement with digital news. The communication of unique messages to specific audiences has capitalized on various personalization strategies that target individuals within populations based on: the channel or platform; behavioral information, such as click history; social network information; and users’ self-identified preferences. Location-based personalization is also common in targeting specific consumers, yet has only recently emerged in a news context.
The 2018 midterm elections provided a first glimpse of location-based targeting in journalism, with major news apps and aggregators using location data to personalize push notifications. This was most prominent in the Florida gubernatorial race: National news outlets provided not only different push notifications at different times to local and national audiences — they also fragmented the state, with different alerts sent to users in Orlando and Tallahassee, Miami and Fort Myers.