A topical question for you all: Should media companies include WhatsApp in their social media/mobile strategy?
INMA’s 2013 Outlook report said the main accelerators of future traffic for publishers will be mobile and social media.
I thought in this blog piece I would focus on the latest big news in the digital world and especially whether there are any implications for media companies.
I am referring to the phenomenon that is the mobile app, WhatsApp, Facebook’s recent US$19 billion (yes, that’s billion with a B) purchase.
WhatsApp is probably best known as a cross-platform, instant messaging service for smartphones. But it could (stress could!) also become a powerful distribution tool for the publishing industry.
The app, which lets consumers send short messages to friends for free (similar to SMS/ text messaging), has an incredible 450 million users (and 70% of those use it every day)....[more]
24 February 2014 · by David Murphy
To date, publishers have largely gone solo in their attempts to monetise their digital offerings, by either putting paywalls on their Web sites, or charging for a subscription to access the tablet version of their publications — with varying degrees of success.
So news of a March launch for Readly in the UK last week, following its launch in Sweden and the United States last year, piqued my interest.
The service takes the form of a digital app, offering an “all-you-can-read” magazine service for a monthly subscription fee. Consumers pay £9.99 per month for unlimited access to all the magazines in Readly’s portfolio, including back issues.
The Readly app can be installed on to up to five devices per subscriber, including iOS, Android, Windows 8, and Kindle Fire. The digital magazines are deconstructed from publisher PDF print files that are automatically re-constructed into an “advanced” PDF format.
Readly says this advanced format provides ultra-fast downloading and simple and consistent navigation across all the magazines, together with advanced zoom, bookmark, search, and sharing functions.
That said, it should be noted these are more akin to page-turner editions than mobile app versions. So, while they may be OK on a tablet (and the bigger the tablet the better), if my own experience is anything to go by, reading them on a phone — even a Sony Xperia Z with a large screen — is not going to be too much fun....[more]
20 February 2014 · by Otto Sjöberg
Sometimes an anniversary and a place can have more than symbolic significance.
Mark Zuckerberg making his debut at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, on the 10th anniversary of Facebook, is such an occasion.
The timing and the place carry a strategic message.
Media companies should pay attention.
To add some perspective, Barcelona is a place where important mobile battles have been won and lost.
In 2010, Eric Schmidt, then-CEO of Google, made his first appearance at the Mobile World Congress and gave a sensational keynote. He announced Google’s new strategy – Mobile First – which back then was jaw-dropping for the auditorium (still one of those “I-was-there-moments” for me). He gave several reasons why Mobile First was essential to Google, but one sentence really summed it all up: “It’s not a phone anymore, it’s your alter ego, an extension of everything we do.”
After that announcement, the speed of the mobile revolution accelerated.
Barcelona has also been the scene of great misfortune.
It was here, in 2011, that Stephen Elop, then the newly appointed CEO of Nokia, gave his own company the kiss of death. On stage with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, he announced a partnership, which meant the Finish company bet everything it had on Windows Phone, Microsoft’s operating system for mobile phones....[more]
16 February 2014 · by Dirk Barmscheidt
The expansion of the smartphone market is unstoppable.
Two-thirds of the current U.S. market and 57% of the European mobile devices market is smartphones. Ninety-six percent of all new mobile devices sold are smartphones.
In August 2013, eMarketer reported that mobile media consumption has surpassed the online share. The next obstacle will be television.
We all know this growth is awesome. But my forecast is: The speed will increase.
When you are looking on your Android smartphone or iPhone, you will see mobile Web sites and apps that are traditionally structured. It seems the developers and usability experts still have Nokia devices in their hands, with a four-way navigation button.
The main navigation is done by channels, sub-channels, and article. You will find buttons for “back” or “home” and an overall navigation bar on top or at the bottom.
The navigation tree is the same as online: three to four layers of hierarchy.
This seems to be right. The user can adapt what he learned online to navigate the mobile product....[more]
11 February 2014 · by Chuck Blevins
Facebook dropped its new app, Paper, on February 3. The sharply designed app is an amalgam of the Facebook, Twitter, and Flipboard aesthetic.
It carries over some of the Facebook sensibilities – and presses further the company’s efforts to be the first and primary stop for social sharing and information consumption.
Unlike the standard version of Facebook, which offers a host of capabilities, Paper focuses on news feeds. Gone are the calendars, group pages, games, etc. And introduced are new Facebook-curated topic streams aggregating a finite list of stories from well-known sources.
The friends feed – the original core product point – is reduced to a single channel among several. The result is a well-populated and function-focused app that isn’t very deep to navigate and has an end.
A premium has also been placed on merging beautiful design and usability (navigation hints are peppered along the way, as well). This sort of focus is not something a media Web site can get away with – resources and information are expected to be practically infinite....[more]
05 February 2014 · by Stefan Savva
The year 2014 will see two game-changing events for digital content businesses.
Within the next few months, the global penetration of smartphones will overtake PCs to become the dominant computing device.
And much closer to home, the Australian mobile audience will overtake the Australian desktop audience sometime around July.
It’s a simple equation: More mobile devices equals more attention from mobile users and more disruption to other media, including our very own desktop businesses.
However, reader attention is monetisable and, as Fairfax Media already commands a lot of mobile reader attention, the audience migration should be good news.
But with mobile yields a fraction of desktop yields — which are in turn a fraction of print yields — are publishers headed in ever-decreasing circles?
The oft-quoted issue driving newspaper woes is the evaporation of the classified advertising model, the rivers of gold. One could be fooled into thinking that disruption visited news publishers only once with the arrival of the Web and the drying up of that river.
But disruption happened more than once in this industry. Disruption is happening on a constant basis, with wave after wave hitting our shores, and each blow has the potential to further erode.
First came the Web, which blew apart any notion of scarcity. Soon after came the portals and Internet service providers (ISPs), which so often were the homepage of many early users looking for a quick snapshot of news. Then came the classified pure-plays.
Then came search, which turned every article page into the homepage and questioned our ability to provide a curated experience.
Next came niche blogs that were only an inch thick but a mile deep on just about any passion you could think of. Then came the aggregators, which provided utility in aggregating all those little blogs back into one easy-to-find destination....[more]
26 January 2014 · by Mark Challinor
So, 2013 is over. What can we expect this year in the mobile arena?
Well, there is one particular area that interests me, as it touches on other upcoming mobile areas — which in themselves are fascinating when trying to predict the future.
Yes, we’ve heard it all before. But I do believe that 2014 will see the escalation of mobile monies to a level where we will all start to take it seriously.
We saw the continued rise of mobile advertising last year, and there is still much work to do. Creative concepts are being developed more and more (much needed); pricing has become sensitive, especially when considering the likes of programmatic trading); and context becomes key as we tailor our offerings.
Mobile is expected to take 8.4% of all ad spend by 2015, according to media industry research Web site MediaPost.
One area of growth here is the so-called “native advertising.” Content and context have always been considerations in the marketing of any product, but with our increasingly digital-aware customers, content and context are now simply essential.
Offering consumers relevant information and/or entertaining content that is tailor-made to a specific context works much more strongly than any traditional approach to advertising.
The strength of “context-driven content” is what’s driving native. Just look at what’s happening in social media: LinkedIn has its sponsored updates, Twitter has promoted tweets, etc....[more]
21 January 2014 · by David Murphy
During the past few years, newspaper and magazine publishers have focused much of their attention on how to cope with/profit from the massive transition in consumption of content from print to digital.
And not without good reason.
Tablets and eReaders are now ubiquitous. Sitting on the train as I write this, there are eight people within my line of vision. Three are deep in thought, or possibly just staring out of the window in a trance. The other five are all reading.
Only one of them has a book, three of the others are on iPads, and one on a Kindle. The only one whose content I can see is reading today’s copy of The Times.
But amidst all the hype around tablets, it’s easy to forget that for the vast majority of traditional print publications, print is still the mainstay of their business. That being the case, any respectable publisher ought to be asking not only how they can manage the transition from print to digital, but also, how can they augment their print media with digital technology?
There is no shortage of ways to do this.
Like tablets, QR codes are now pretty much ubiquitous. And I bet if you stopped 50 people on the street, showed them a QR code, and asked them what it was, a majority would know.
A QR code can lead to whatever the publisher chooses to link it to, whether it’s a piece of content, such as an app, or a video report to download to your phone or tablet.
In fact, probably the most frustrating thing about most QR code executions is how they pull the rug out from under their own feet. They do this by frequently taking the consumer to a piece of content that is not optimised for viewing on a mobile phone, such as a full-fat desktop Web site.
Near-field communication (NFC) chips are probably the natural successors to QR codes. Or they will be, once the price point drops to a level where it becomes feasible to include one on the same page in every copy of a publication with a print run of several hundred thousand or even a couple million....[more]
07 January 2014 · by Chuck Blevins
TechCrunch recently reported on a UK firm’s use of Apple’s iBeacon technology to sell digital editions based on precise indoor location.
Exact Editions uses iBeacons to allow cafes, doctors’ offices, hotels, etc. to purchase subscriptions, which are then made available free of charge to visitors.
Though compelling for those of us concerned with how to make our digital products available at the local coffee shop, along with our printed editions, this is just one scenario the technology offers.
iBeacon is Apple’s implementation of an indoor location positioning using Bluetooth Low Energy to communicate with mobile devices via push notifications within defined areas. Wikipedia has a good explanation on the basics of iBeacon and Bluetooth LE....[more]
05 January 2014 · by Mark Challinor
Happy New Year to all! As we move into a new year, what can we learn from 2013? Well, it became clear last year that 2014 will be the year mobile and location-based advertising finally takes off.
Now that most publishers have a mobile offering for driving new revenues, the question is “What’s next?”
Location is part of that future jigsaw.
Digital advertising generally has undergone a massive change in recent times. And there seems to be a general acknowledgement that the current generation of mainstream digital ads is not quite working as well as it could. This is true for consumers, advertisers, and publishers alike.
Readers can be “turned off” by some existing digital (especially mobile ads, as many are irrelevant and, therefore, intrusive banners ads). This leads to a rise of “ad blocker” services, particularly when the ads promote a product that consumers have previously viewed or have no interest in.
The advertising industry needs to change from a pure selling culture to a “helping the journey to purchase” culture.
That’s where location comes in....[more]