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Mobile innovators share audience, revenue success stories



Alex Hardiman, vice president of product at The New York Times, shared with delegates at the INMA World Congress in New York City on Tuesday the company’s strategy to accommodate the shift from desktop users to mobile users.

“This is probably not new for many of you,” Hardiman said.

In the United States, The New York Times has 35 million mobile users – 3 million more than its desktop users. This transition has caused 28 million of its viewers to switch to mobile-only to access the company’s site.

The media company also has experienced a shift in the revenue its advertising and circulation generates. Circulation surpassed advertising revenue as it rose over US$800 million while advertising fell under US$700 million.

Hardiman also discussed the company’s new Apple watch app, which uses one-sentence stories to intrigue its audience to pull out their iPhones and read the rest of the story: “Not really a headline. Not really a tweet,” Hardiman said, describing the one-sentence stories.

The company has even experimented with emojis on the app to interest readers.

The watch has brought in many new subscribers and was also apart of of a broader strategy, she said.

The New York Times changed how its stories were presented to the audience on mobile devices. Before, breaking news stories and food articles were the same size on the screen. Now, more important news stories appear bigger and videos are front and center. These same tools apply to mobile advertising as well.

“At the end of the day, we need to make sure we’re clearly labeling what’s advertising,” Hardiman said.

Joy Robins, senior vice president/global revenue and strategy at Quartz, continued the conversation, focusing on the user-first strategy. 

“We knew that in order to really be successful, we had to build a team around the culture of user-first,” Robins said. “While people were spending more time on mobile devices, they were doing so in shorter bursts.”

Quartz was built from the view that the world was going to change, so the company is changing with it, she said: “New forms of technology are entering our companies, and new companies are entering the marketplace.”

When Quartz first began, there was not a strong demand for its product. The company did not lower the price, however, staying strong and focusing on the quality of its product.

Robins left the audience with three principles on how to engage audiences in more powerful ways:

  1. Do not compromise quality.

  2. Capitalise on the mobile mindset.

  3. Believe in your product.

Mobile Director of Fairfax Media Stefan Savva discussed media disruption. Instead of print transitioning to digital, digital is transitioning to mobile, he explained. This puts pressure on outlets to be innovative in their methods: “Mobile is changing every single bit about being a publisher.”

Mobile has changed the interaction model and distribution model. People share desktops; they don’t share mobile phones. People are checking their phones up to 50 to 100 times a day, he said.

“We’re going to end up being surrounded by four billion smartphones on this planet,” he said. “That’s why we need to get this right.”

Ian Vannman, media platform product manager at the Schibsted Group and co-founder of the Swedish mobile news app Omni (owned by Schibsted), spoke about Omni’s development since launch last year.

Omni, a digital-only company, met with news junkies to help determine its strategy: “We’ve been live for a year and a half, it’s very promising,” Vannman said.

Omni already is Sweden’s fifth-leading news service and produces more than 20 to 30 articles a day with two to three editors manning the desk at all times. The app allows users to pick and choose which article topics they would like to see in their newsfeed.

Within the first year, Omni had 30 native advertisers. This calendar year, the company has an additional 25 more.

Almost 70% of readers agree with the statements that “ads in Omni are good” and 66% agreed that “ads in Omni are relevant.” In addition, 86% of Omni readers say native ads are better than display ads.

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