**As published at DIGIDAY:DAILY** Publisher: The New York Times Price: Free Platform: iOS Advertising: Banner and interstitial video ads Functionality: A Fun Factor: B Overall: B+ The Scoop from The New York Times is a new guide to the Big Apple from the staff at the paper of record. Surely, there are countless guides and review-based outlets to choose from when it comes to nightlife, dining, entertainment and activities, but even in today’s mile-a-minute culture few things carry the clout and prestige of The Gray Lady.
I can’t help but want to know what The New York Times recommends for one of the greatest cities on earth and I’m already looking forward to checking a few newly discovered gems off my list next time I visit. The Scoop is incredibly simple and it doesn’t take much effort to dive right in. There are currently four categories – restaurants, bars, events and “only in N.Y.” – but to its credit, The New York Times is requesting all sorts of feedback from users ranging from feature requests to compliments and reported problems. The restaurants category is the product of Sam Sifton, the newspaper’s restaurant critic. Users are presented with his current 50 favorite restaurants in New York, which includes everything from Babbo in Greenwich Village to Waverly Inn in the West Village. Each listing includes the typical contact information and mapping feature alongside a pull quote from Sifton’s review and a link to a full review where available. In similar fashion, the bars section currently lists 25 of dining editor Pete Wells’ favorite watering holes. The events section provides a weekly snapshot of performances and other happenings in New York. This section, as it stands now, needs the most work. I understand the desire to filter and not overwhelm users with too many choices, but the current crop of 30 recommended events seems a little dry and unappealing on a massive scale. Finally, the “Only in New York” section lists everything from offbeat outings to the classics. Appealing to a large audience almost by default, a couple recommendations, for example, include: “Eat Lunch with Diplomat” at the United Nations Delegates Dining Room and “Visit a Hindu Temple in Flushing” at the Ganesh Temple in Flushing, Queens. Every listing in The Scoop can be shared with friends via email, text message, Facebook or Twitter, and once users complete an outing, visit or attend an event, they can “mark as done” and see how many recommendations they have left to go. The Scoop is only available for the iPhone right now, but the publisher has smartly developed a web-based version as well. As for advertising, the app currently has a banner ad running for “The Lion King” show on Broadway at the bottom of the screen, but it’s also taken advantage of the iOS platform by implementing an interstitial video ad that runs early during first use of the app. I haven’t been able to get the interstitial to play again after the first run so it appears the publisher is taking efforts to not overwhelm users with an intrusive ad more than once.