Today’s mobile question: “If you build it, will they come?”


If you build it, he will come.”

So went the famous quote from one of the best baseball movies ever made, “Field of Dreams.” In the film, an Iowa corn farmer (Ray Kinsella) destroys his crops to build a baseball field because he hears a voice telling him to do so. He builds the field, and indeed the infamous Chicago Black Sox appear on the field.

Where are we going with this?

The same thing is happening for newspapers all around the world, with respect to mobile traffic and content consumption. Newspapers are building mobile-optimised Web sites and mobile apps to keep up with the demand of their readers and the growing trends of mobile news consumption.

According to NADbank research, 30% of adults in Canada read newspapers online weekly. The statistics get more interesting when you look at the percentage of those adults who read the news only on mobile devices. In 2010, it was only 2% of adults. But by 2013, that number had jumped to 28%.

Breaking those numbers down further:

  • 2013 shows millennials (18- to 34-year-olds) consuming 34% of their news on mobile devices only, up from 3% in 2010.

  • 81% of millennials are mobile phone users, according to Ipsos OTX and Ipsos Global @dvisor in May 2013.

  • And, according to ComScore, millennials comprise 31% of all mobile users in Canada.

As the general population continues to consume more and more content on mobile devices, news content, specifically, is on the rise. With this trend showing no signs of slowing down, Canadian businesses need to get online and make mobile a priority. And they need to do it now.

According to the Business Development Bank of Canada, 20% of companies with 10 or more employees still don’t even have a Web site, and only 17% of Canadian businesses are positioned for e-commerce. Given these low percentages for desktop traffic, we can safely assume that mobile numbers are even lower in terms of how many businesses are ready to interact with consumers on a mobile Web site.

Newspapers’ mobile impressions continue to rise at exponential levels, but the revenues are not following suit. Many businesses are not set up to handle mobile consumption, and this is definitely a predominant contributing factor.

The question that needs to be asked is “Why?” Why are businesses so slow to adopt and adapt to the mobile world. Clearly millennials are an ideal target audience, and — even more clearly — they are spending a great deal of their time on mobile devices.

As our audience continues to grow on mobile, we will continue to analyse and segment the enormous amount of data we are gathering from our mobile audience. And we will continue selling this valuable platform to our advertisers. We are researching our audiences’ behaviour on mobile and building content unique to them.

Habits of the mobile news consumer are different. They are an audience on the move, looking for a means of entertaining themselves while waiting for the subway, doing research while shopping, finding out what is going on around them. They want always on, always current, and always relevant information.

We are doing our part to build platforms and publish content that consumers are craving, and, in turn, they are consuming more of it and more often than ever before.

The evidence is clear: Businesses should be embracing mobile as quickly as possible. It is time for advertisers to heed the same advice that Ray Kinsella did: “If you build it, they will come.”

Jeff Clark, vice president of audience development for Postmedia, contributed to this blog.

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