Want more relevance and revenue? Start with your mobile audience


Print is not dead. It might never die. That’s the good news.

As news organisations, to survive we must change. And so, newspaper might not always mean “news on paper.”

For more than 150 years, Industrial Age thinking led many to believe a mass-produced product must be good. It was great. There hadn’t been much competition, until lately.

Publishers could circulate a one-size-fits-all product. Advertisers would benefit by reaching an entire community. And the notion of targeted communication wouldn’t come along until some 100 years later.

Newspaper might not always mean “news” either.

It just so happens the content produced by great newsrooms across the globe happens to be, well, news. Thank the Internet for that. Content is the Internet’s most abundant resource. There’s lots of it; it’s easy to get to; it’s easy to find; and there are multiple way to consume it.

One of the greatest recent advances has been the mobile revolution. It’s not a trend, it’s an explosion. Much has changed over the last 150 years.

Hannah Hill, marketing specialist at Mediaspace Solutions, in a recent content post said: “Mobile platforms have changed the way many people get their news. There are those who like to get a large sampling of headlines to select and read the stories most interesting to them, and then there are those who use mobile as a supplement to the good old-fashioned newspaper.

“The newspaper industry has to take advantage of mobile platforms and the benefits they can bring to the industry. The publications that realise the value of mobile will reap the benefits, while the rest may continue to flounder.”

Life moves fast, mobile moves faster: According to the Pew Research Center, 56% of all American adults have a smartphone, which means they have 24/7 access to the news, even while on the go.

Being able to consume the news on a mobile device, whether phone or tablet, might be the only way some of us are able to stay informed.

“Mobile platforms allow us to quickly sift through sections and stories to find what is most relevant and interesting to us while providing advertisers more face time with hard to reach consumers,” Hill said.

A 2013 Google/Nielsen study concludes that more than half of all Internet searches begin on a mobile device. From there things move quickly. Of consumers using mobile to research, 55% want to purchase within the hour. Within a day, 83% of all mobile searches want to buy.

News, information, and content must keep up.

“The way we consume news is changing due to our increasingly busy schedules,” Hill said. “We run from work to daycare to the grocery store and then rush home to make one of Rachael Ray’s 30-minute meals before hauling the kids to basketball practice — and that’s just your average Monday.”  

Simply not having the time to read is not the same as not wanting to read as part of a daily routine. Mobile is fast, efficient, and provides relevance.

The Newspaper Association of America reported that as an industry, our mobile audience hit record highs this past year. Readers are showing they want to be connected to interesting topics, wherever they are.

In September 2013, comScore research revealed 141 million adults engaged with U.S. newspaper digital content. Half of those used mobile devices, and one in five accessed newspaper content solely through smartphones or tablets.  

The demographics of mobile reveal differences from print-centric audiences. They skew much younger, with nearly half of mobile-exclusive readers between 18 and 34 years old, and just 4% who are 65 or older. That’s data to which our advertisers pay attention.

Content is king. Satisfying a different audience — the mobile audience — isn’t as easy as just publishing school board minutes, the crime blotter, and a crossword puzzle. It takes an approach that appeals to a younger audience.

There is money in mobile. “The industry can’t place all its eggs in the same basket, so to speak, so it must look to opportunities like mobile to bring additional revenue,” Hill warned.

In 2012, overall mobile ad revenue grew 80%, while local digital advertising grew 22%. Though Google and Facebook dominate the mobile market, there is still ample opportunity for the newspaper industry to grab a slice of the pie.

But newspapers must act fast.

Hill points to how a newspaper brand realised the importance of mobile. The New York Times launched TimesAction, a series of mobile advertising capabilities and mobile rich-media ad interface definitions, on its NYTimes app for iPad.

Mobile isn’t shrinking. The opportunity to earn will grow.

Here’s the bad news, according to Hill: “It’s better to adopt mobile platforms now than not at all. They aren’t going away anytime soon and it would be a shame for publications to ignore the benefits they can bring to the industry.”

Hannah Hill is a marketing specialist at Mediaspace Solutions and contributed to this blog post. She is a frequent contributor to “What’s On Tap,” a blog focused on delivering the latest and greatest in the advertising and newspaper industries. You can connect with Hannah on LinkedIn or Google+.

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