What does “real mobile-first” mean to the media industry?

By Dawn McMullan


Dallas, Texas, USA


Of all the things people need to know about mobile, they need to understand how incredibly personal and intimate that is. Our phones are an extension of ourselves. They are ourselves, David Ho, vice president/executive editor at Hearst Newspapers Digital, said the 2017 INMA World Congress in New York City.

We put everything in there. We put our work, the games that we play, the places we shop, our friends, our relatives, all our photos we haven’t organised. They are essentially us.

“So when we send news to people’s devices, we have to get that experience right. We have to make sure that it’s not annoying, that it’s easy, that it’s fast, and that it’s adding something to people’s lives and not taking away something. That we’re filling the needs and solving the problems that they have.

Mobile-first is an oft-spoken phase that’s been around the industry for about seven years, Ho said. What news media companies should be focused on is “real mobile-first.”

“Right now, what we really need is to change the culture of news organisations. And to do that you have to embrace this real mobile first. And that real mobile first is including mobile into everything an organisation does — from the most mundane granular things, like meeting agendas, putting mobile as the first thing that people talk about instead of the last, all the way to big products and news packages that you develop and plan. How do you make sure that mobile is central to that conversation? We need to focus on where the audience is and that’s on mobile.”

One of the biggest myths about mobile news is that mobile equals short, that news audiences don’t have the attention span for longer video pieces, Ho says.

“That experience is real, but it’s just one of many possible experiences that people have on their mobile devices. Plenty of people read long-form books, long stories, on phones. They watch long videos on phones. They watch long movies on phones. It’s about different time periods. That’s why mobile is really about relevance. Because it’s what’s relevant to you right now. It’s what you need right now. It solves a problem. It fills a gap. It fills a need. Those can be long things, short things, and everything in between.”

About Dawn McMullan

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