Lessons for newsmedia companies from around the mobile industry


Readers on mobile devices are generally more time-poor, specific-reason focused, and armed with a different viewing method (a small screen) — and many are ready to go away if not instantly engaged or informed.

And therein lies the challenge for newsmedia companies: capturing and holding your readers’ attention and presenting only the right content in the context of who the reader is, what they’re interested in, and where they are. (As an industry, we are generally poor at this, offering basically the same content regardless of platform, age, time of day, and who the viewer is.)

Below are some observations based on successful mobile industry monetisation strategies, which should be a focus for us all.

  1. Know your readership and how they use mobile with you. The minute they engage, readers expect mobile content to be automatically tailored to who they are and where they are. To deliver this user experience and make it effective, we should take the time to learn what our readers’ mobile content habits are: how they access our content online, what our brand is known for, and what they expect from us.

    For example, if your content is financial, readers are most likely to want the latest breaking news in the financial world. How can you make this a more compelling and convenient experience for them? Alternatively, with sports coverage, readers most likely check in to see their favourite football team’s latest statistics. How can you provide something unique to differentiate this?

  2. Make mobile ads as relevant as possible. One of the advantages of mobile is the ability to know where readers are when they are connected. Readers not only have grown comfortable with a location-based service, but sometimes expect almost “totally personalised” content as part of their mobile experience. Mobile allows these ads to be really effective. We need to ensure we’re taking advantage of the transparency of the mobile channel by providing targeted, in-context ads that are based on the reader’s actual location, his or her search/browse history, social media usage, and, of course, personal preferences.

    It is starting to be asked by agencies around us in London, and I’m sure where you are, too. For instance, an agency recently asked if a sports client’s ads on our Telegraph iPad app could be opened only when the reader enters the sport section on the app. We don’t have that capability presently. But maybe this is something we should be offering going forward?

  3. Create premium, multichannel experiences, befitting your perception. For reasons of convenience, mobile users usually are willing to pay a premium when accessing content on the move. We should offer a means for our readers to access content wherever they might be looking for or at our content.

    Mobile users react well to exclusive content and time-based promotional offers. We should find ways that we can deliver these experiences in a way unique to your newspaper. We should push unique experiences, loyalty offers, or access to premium content, to help readers justify their spending time/subscription money.

  4.  Make mobile a social affair. Readers are becoming increasingly social. They want to share information they find relevant and interesting to their community of friends, family, or interests. Consumers now spend more time on social media than on e-mail. So we should align our content and experience with daily social activities for the biggest impact possible.

    Mobile offers a great opportunity to allow readers to spread your content for you in social networks where they’re spending time already. More and more users are getting introduced to content for the first time via Facebook and not search engines, so we need to make sure we are offering readers easy tools to evangelise your content.  

Footnote: Suffering from “nomophobia”?

The rise of “nomophobia,” or the fear of being without your mobile phone, is instantly recognisable. If we leave our phones at home on a work day, we genuinely feel panicked without it. Our phones are now our e-mail device, our camera, our games console, our social networker — all rolled into one device. More than 50% of the UK, for instance, now claims to suffer from this new phobia.

The camera industry, games companies and PC providers, all are competing with this one mobile device, which has rolled several gadgets into one, and which is doing it better and better every year. It’s important to disconnect from a connected world sometimes. However, the increase of our reliance on our phones has happened so rapidly and, whether or not it’s bad for us, our addiction to our phones is here to stay. Nomophobia will understandably continue to rise, as the mobile manufacturers continue to up their game.

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