A couple of years ago, publishing effectively became digital first. This year, it’s pretty much mobile first, with many media businesses now finding over 60% of their traffic is on mobile devices, with smartphones leading the growth.
FIPP’s London conference on 10-11 May 2016 devoted two whole days to exploring mobile opportunities, and I was invited to moderate twenty-two sessions – exploring the experiences of publishers as varied as Quartz, Martha Stewart, Time Inc, Immediate Media, The Daily Beast, Popsugar and the New York Times. Here’s a taste of what I learnt…
A common theme was the importance of social platforms as a channel to build reach and scale organically, especially among <35s.
Plus there is a strong move towards more visual media, with publishers having to learn the skills of broadcasters in producing video content.
Mobile also connects the physical and digital world, allowing people to access information while travelling or when in-store.
And the traditional cycle of monthly or weekly publishing is being replaced by continuous feeds that are matched to the new “prime-time” slots.
These are my top ten smart ideas for grabbing the mobile opportunity:
1. Repackage content to be useful to readers:
Time Inc’s Powder aggregates beauty product reviews and offers personalised suggestions, with plans in future to deliver a physical “beauty box” to subscribers
2. Use the lock screen for breaking news
Quartz app is built around using informal messaging notifications to provide a personalised, mobile friendly news update
3. Become a global mobile TV channel:
Martha Stewart Living are publishing cookery and home decorating demos on Facebook Live, and reaching a new worldwide audience
4. Provide a mobile-centric experience:
Economist Espresso has built up 200,000 subscribers for a mobile friendly, lightweight, daily news briefing.
5. Enhance the consumer experience in-store:
Allrecipes have adapted their website to mobile and incorporate not only shopping lists and friends’ recipe recommendations but also coupons for use instore.
6. Reach new audiences using social platforms:
French newspaper Liberation felt they had missed the train on web, but now publish news stories on Facebook Instant Articles and average time spent reading articles has increased by 50%
7. Learn how to produce video content:
Cosmopolitan US publishes content on Facebook and Snapchat discover, and has developed an in-house studio to produce video content for social channels
8. Leverage growth of mobile search:
The Week are experimenting with Google Accelerated Mobile pages to drive more traffic via mobile search
9. Build a community of influencers.
Popsugar, who reach a global audience of 100m young women, predominantly on mobile, runs an influencer platform so contributors can amplify their social reach
10. Explore new forms of storytelling and use apps to widen access.
The New York Times distributed low-cost headsets to its subscribers and launched a series of virtual reality films, achieving 1.3m views and attracting sufficient sponsors to make the project profitable.
After two days it was clear to me that media organisations, whether news and lifestyle, specialist or b2b, need to completely reinvent what content they provide for their readership, and when they publish it.
This might feel intimidating, but there are also great opportunities to use the new, global social platforms to reach a worldwide audience, and enlist them to contribute ideas and content to enrich your media brand.
If you’d like to talk more about what I learnt from these mobile media pioneers and how you could apply these ideas to your media or publishing business, please get in touch for an informal chat.
About the author
Carolyn Morgan has over twenty years experience launching, growing, buying and selling specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events. Carolyn now advises publishers large and small on their digital strategy and writes and speaks on the topic of digital publishing strategy for media sector publishers and events.