An introduction to IncentivEyes
IncentivEyes is a toolkit for augmenting and incentivizing user engagement on news websites using a news organization’s existing resources. Take a look at the narrated introduction:
Each slide demonstrates the main user-facing components of IncentivEyes. (Click below for image descriptions.)
Incentive toolkit - Streams
The first part of the incentivEyes engagement toolkit is the follow functionality, which provides users the opportunity to follow tags, categories, commenters, sections, etc. This activity is channeled into a "Streams" section, where the user can browse activity and create custom alerts and RSS feeds. Each click earns the user points.
The IncentivEyes pieces
The user-facing “surfaces,” which consist of the latest user interface idioms, improve the browsability of news items, help the user customize their news consumption, and provide (as needed) new points of contact for the user to “click on something.” These surfaces include:
- a “hover hox”that lets the user mouse over stories and interact (see prototype)
- “follow” buttons for topics, tags, authors, commenters, sections, etc.
- a “streams” section where the user can organize the items he/she follows and create custom streams and RSS
- A “points” counter that can be implemented on the homepage or in navigation
- A “deals box” (either as a hover box or dedicated page) where the user can redeem points to unlock deals
- other user interactions that can be developed and rolled out at a later date
The administrative backend
The news organization has control over what portions of the user-facing surfaces are implemented on their site. Through a user interface accessible to relevant teams, employees can set point values for each user activity, set point redemption rates, and upload deals.
All of these tools could be made available on an open-basis and customized for every implementation.
How the perks work
Users don’t need to make any behavioral changes in order for IncentivEyes to work, because the engagement scoring (points accumulation) happens for tasks the user would be doing on the site anyway.
The news organization can assign variable point values to various user activities or milestones, such as adding a story to a “read later” queue, commenting, following authors, topics, etc. The user can then “cash in” these accumulated points to unlock discounts, “Groupon-style” promotions or any other kinds of deals.
For example, a logged-in user might earn:
- 2 points for every story link he/she clicks on
- 5 points for every comment he/she leaves
- 10 points for every “called out” comment he/she earns
- 20 points for every new author, category, or tag he/she follows
- 25 points for every uploaded photo, “iReport,” etc.
Once the user has, say, 50 points saved, he/she could then spend 10 points to unlock a deal. The exact values for unlocking/redeeming deals can also be defined by the company.
This creates new ad revenue opportunities for the news organization as well as fun, relevant and unobtrusive deals for the user – all while encouraging the user to engage more with their favorite news site. It’s a win for everybody!
IncentivEyes increases user engagement while providing an opportunity for monetization; many groups of people stand to benefit from a product like this:
- The people responsible for making sure their news organization is in fact a viable business
- Users looking for deals
- Users who like additional ways of interacting with their favorite news site
- Users who are competitive and enjoy things that are like games
- Users who like the idea of being rewarded for activities they’d be doing anyway
- Journalists who like it when users click on their stories
- Journalists who like it when users follow them or the topics they cover
- Portions of incentivEyes could possibly be implemented with gamification APIs such as Gamify or BigDoor or leverage them for it’s own API
- Absolutely no part of the incentivEyes concept requires the newsroom to directly collaborate with sales, though there may be an opportunity for ethical collaboration in setting activity point values and point redemption rates.
- The user-facing elements are designed to be intuitive and make consuming news easier. While backend administrative tasks can also be accomplished via a simple user interface, administrators may require a few hours of training before they feel comfortable setting point values and uploading deals.
- In order to combat “gaming” of the point system, some precautionary measures would need to be implemented. These would include but aren’t limited to: requiring users to register for an account, confirming some activities with a Captcha system, etc.