Will 2013 be regarded as the “Year of Responsive Design (RD)?

So many think so. And while publishers consider whether it’s worth it to make the investment in responsive, they need to closely look at their monetisation strategies.

Publishers shouldn’t be asking themselves if they should switch to RD (and advertising solutions). They should be asking when.

Most people do not read their daily news on just one computer or device these days. We now live in a multi-screen world where, for example, someone might begin reading an article on a smartphone and then e-mail the article link to himself to finish reading later on his desktop or laptop. 

That’s why we at Telegraph Media Group have adopted a multi-media strategy that allows readers to choose from a number of distinct packages (for example, our “Print Pack,” which allows easy/full access to our print, online, mobile and tablet offerings — content anytime, anywhere — for one monthly subscription). 

Google recently stated that most daily media interactions are screen-based (a vast 90% in fact, be it smartphone, laptop/desktop, tablet or television). And in the future, what other screens can we further expect? Google Glass? Connected cars? The list is becoming almost endless.

Are these things we need to look at? (The New York Times has produced an app for Google Glass already.)

So, to reflect a mantra I have used before: “Where the eyeballs go, that’s where the money goes, too.”

To survive in this evolving and increasingly digital/mobile-focused media world, all publishers must face the fact that they must bring both quality editorial and advertising content to where the audience consumes it.

For us, that includes newspapers (i.e. news on paper) but also a range of other platforms/screens such as Kindle Fire, Google Currents, Flipboard, etc. 

Newspapers remain at the core of The Telegraph and will remain so for many years to come. However, it’s just one of a number of ways to interact with readers as connected devices are changing our world.

We all just need to recognise this and innovate/be creative accordingly.

So, how do we take advantage of this situation?

As far as advertisers are concerned, the above scenarios suggests expensive, multi-creative, which could be prohibitive. It’s important, as eMarketer, reports that mobile ad spending increased 180% (+US$4 billion) since 2012. This is significantly higher than its analysis back in Sept 2012 that predicted an 80% growth. eMarketer is also forecasting that mobile ad spending (in the United States alone) will reach US$7.19 billion by end 2013 and US$21 billion by 2016. 

These numbers emphasise the importance for publishers to utilise cross-screen content/monetisation strategies that can be cost effective and easy top buy into. 

Good news is ahead. RD can help. It can drive revenue across all digital screens through bundling and selling overall ad traffic inventory as one package whilst converting ads into HTML5 responsive ads.

The publisher can then, in effect, run her desktop inventory on mobile and tablet at desktop CPMs and offer cross-screen targeting. Gone would be the scenario we hear all too often of “adding on mobile,” for example, to an advertisers’ campaign and it being treated as a “cheap” add on. 

So, does this centre our focus on “mobile first?” Yes, the basic idea of RD is that mobile devices have the smallest screens and therefore require simpler interfaces to be usable.

Instead of starting with a desktop design and then trying to repurpose elements until they fit on a small screen, we should instead design for smallest interfaces first and then add extra elements for larger displays. 

RD uses existing Web design tools in a new and different way and allows Web browsers to reorganise site layouts depending on screen size. It uses one code base and one set of content.

While Responsive Design offers publishers many advantages, it also has its challenges, such as deciding whether to embrace this “mobile first” approach.

In short, we should determine which devices and computers — and how many — people are consuming the news on. The results may surprise you if not known already. Then speak to your ad operations team about how you can adopt RD into your business.

At The Telegraph, we are almost at the point where we can reduce the number of creatives to just two. And that will work across many, many platforms and devices. It’s worth looking at.