Publishers look at many ways to increase content relevance, such as time of day and user behaviour. But understanding the precise location and context of readers and then delivering services at scale has generated a lot of excitement over the last couple of years.

Traditional news publishers created their original business model, long ago, on having a competitive advantage of a geographical boundary. Those publishers were either the first or the best provider of news to the region of [insert place name here.]

The Internet eroded some of that geographic advantage, but the winners in the upcoming battle for location and context will be the publishers that can leverage contextual content.

Contextual advertising has been around for more than a decade and is based on the premise that adverts are automatically selected and inserted into a page based on the page content. Mobile is bringing contextual content to the real world with the ability to link real activities back to content and services via a smart phone.

The question facing publishers today is how to unbundle their content to provide utility and relevance in a mobile framework and to a geo-hungry audience?

The following are two categories that could bring contextual content opportunities for publishers and brands in 2015:


Mobile payments will proliferate in 2015, creating a variety of new micro-content and commerce opportunities. And the entertainment category — the fastest growing mobile commerce segment with a CAGR of 26% — is a good starting point.

From our own experience at Fairfax Media delivering entertainment content to a potential 2.8 million mobile device readers, we know that:

  • 71% of them have undertaken some form of entertainment activity in the last three months (EmmaTM survey conducted by Ipsos Media CT).

  • Going to the movies is still the most popular activity, followed by art galleries and live performances (Fairfax Media m-site survey conducted by GfK).

  • Our active mobile devices audience are also researching entertainment options with half reading entertainment articles every single day of the week (Fairfax Media Tablet survey).

The value comes when we can seamlessly provide recommended content utility to the mobile audience while inserting a brand into the path-to-purchase. In the digital world, we have had this for ages with Amazon making pre- and post-purchase recommendations the norm, but this trend is now coming to the physical world.

For example, someone buys two movie tickets using their smartphone and the publisher sends a restaurant review and reservation option for a place located nearby that is perfectly timed for when that movie finishes.


Booking travel and accommodation online is a mainstream activity with a growing proportion of consumers turning to their smartphone to do this. According to the Frost & Sullivan, Australian Mobile Commerce Survey, 50% of respondents purchased travel via a mobile device in the last 12 months.

Fairfax Media’s smartphone audience regularly peaks during the morning or evening commute, and we know that domestic destinations are top of mind for this audience, with 80% of them intending to travel locally within the next 12 months.

So what opportunities will arise that harness proximity technology such as beacons and allow publishers to insert themselves in either the inspiration or the planning phase of going on holiday?

A reader’s moving location seems like an opportunity to trigger a contextual promotion: “Hey we couldn’t help but notice you are passing a Sheraton hotel on your commute to the office. Want to see the view from the Sheraton in the Maldives?”

Post-mobile platforms like smart watches, connected cars, and wearables will eventually extend the use cases for contextual content. But for now, smartphones are really the only practical delivery mechanism.

Technology, creative, and permission levels all need to mature for these opportunities to eventuate but the underlying element is there: we all carry a smartphone.

The real cultural shift of the century is not the fact that we are all carrying smartphones around. Our dependence on mobile devices is a by-product of the actual shift; that is, our insatiable need for connection ubiquity.

A depressing, but very real illustration of that point can be found in a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics. Parents were observed with their children during mealtimes and it was found that in the vast majority of dining experiences, parents are more absorbed with mobile content than their own children.

So even with our loved ones close by, our smartphones – with their connection ubiquity – command more attention.