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Washington Post mobile strategy includes proven + experimental initiatives

By Shelley Seale


Austin, Texas, United States


There are many different paths to a successful mobile strategy, says Joey Marburger, director of digital products and designs at The Washington Post. Marburger shared some of his thoughts on this at the INMA World Congress of News Media in Washington, D.C.

The first issue Marburger cleared up is mobile doesn’t just mean smartphone. “Smartphone growth is definitely slowing; pretty much everyone has a smartphone,” he said. “So we’re starting to think beyond the smartphones with mobile. How do we use Artificial Intelligence in general, especially with smart speakers and voice? What can we do more with smartphones? Just pushing the boundaries like what we’re doing with AR [Augmented Reality].”

The real challenge for media, Marburger said, is monetising mobile: “We have a very strong advertising business and subscription business, both of which are growing really well. Mobile is still growing and growing, but it’s a little harder to monetise.”

The Washington Post has done fairly well with that, Marburger said, especially with AR, where advertisers show a lot of interest. “I think that’s a huge, new opportunity, and I think that media companies need to know that doesn’t mean a banner ad on mobile. You need to think about it a little differently.”

Marburger advises media companies not to copy other strategies, but rather to look at their own priorities and do what is achievable for them. “We focus too much on competitors. Say a smaller newspaper is like, ‘Oh, if we could only do that thing The Washington Post does.’ You know, that may not work for them.”

Mobile strategies can be as simple as really smart push alerts or newsletters, Marburger said. “Things that don’t seem as innovative are critical to a robust mobile strategy.”

Experimentation, however, is something entirely different. “There always needs to be room for experimentation,” Marburger said. Otherwise, by the time a company realises it needs to fix something, it’s usually too late.

The Washington Post did this with AR, which its readers weren’t exactly clamouring for to begin with, and many still aren’t familiar with. But team members knew it was the future and they needed to head in that direction.

“Focus on your business, your strategy, and listen to your readers,” he said.

About Shelley Seale

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