First, the worlds of politics, branding, marketing, and advertising stole a page from conventional newsrooms. Now it's time to steal it back, by using social networks for real-time marketing programmes that inform and delight our audiences.
It’s time to drown out all the negative talk about the news industry and trumpet the good news about how readers are engaging with us on multiple platforms.
Throughout INMA World Congress 2013 in New York, various speakers suggested actions news media companies can take to make their products more attractive.
Advertisers are waking up to mobile platforms and the opportunities they create.
Readers on mobile devices are generally more time-constrained, specific reason-focused with the small screen, but ready to go away if not instantly engaged or informed.
And therein lies the challenge: capturing and holding reader’s attention, presenting only the right content in the context of whom the reader is, what he’s interested in, where he is.
(From my own straw poll research, I can say with reasonable confidence that we are currently poor at this as a news media industry, offering basically the same content, regardless of platform, age, time of day, and who’s viewing.)
Below are some observations about examples of successful mobile industry monetisation, which should serve as a focus for us all.
Know your readership and how they use mobile with you.
The minute they log in, readers expect mobile content to be automatically tailored to who they are and where they are. To deliver this 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.
For example, if my newspaper, The Telegraph here in London, has content that is financially based, readers are most likely to want the latest breaking news in that financial world. But how can we make this a more compelling and convenient experience for them?
Alternatively, when it comes to our sports coverage, our readers are most likely to check in to see their favourite football team’s latest stats. How can we provide something unique to differentiate this? The way it’s presented, maybe? The addition of a new feature, perhaps, such as augmented reality?
Make your 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 have not only grown comfortable with a location-based service, but sometimes expect almost “hyper-personalised” content as part of the mobile experience. Mobile allows these ads to be incredibly effective.
We need to ensure we’re taking advantage of the transparency of the mobile channel by providing targeted, in-context ads based on the reader’s physical location, search/browse history, social media usage, and personal preferences.
It is starting to be requested by agencies around us in London. for instance, and we need to consider it seriously. I was recently asking if a sports drink manufacturer could have ads on our iPad app that would only be opened when the reader enters the sport section on the app. It’s something now on our development road-map and something I wouldn’t have been asked until recently. Advertisers are waking up to mobile platforms and the opportunities they create.
Create premium, multichannel experiences, befitting your news media brand’s perception.
For convenience on the go, mobile users are usually willing to pay a premium. We should offer a means for our readers to access content wherever they might be looking for 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 our news brand.
We should push unique experiences, loyalty offers, or access to premium content to get users to justify spend on, say, a subscription with us.
I feel we could all do more, using the power of the medium at our disposal, especially if you, like us, believe our future company business model is based around a subscription one.
Make mobile social!
Readers are becoming increasingly social. They want to share information they find relevant and interesting to their community. Consumers now spend more time on social media than on email. So we should align our content and experience with daily social activities for the biggest impact. Mobile offers a great opportunity for readers to spread our content for us 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 necessarily search engines, so we need to make sure we are offering readers easy tools to evangelise our content.
Footnote: Recently, Mike McCue, founder of Flipboard, visited our offices at The Telegraph. He said he adopted a very simple test for all his company does, in terms of new product development: the three- phase “mom” test:
Would his mom love it? Would it make her say, “Wow!”?
Would she want to use it? Is it simple enough for anyone to think she can use and enjoy the experience?
Could she use it? Is it easy enough for her to actually use it without any technology knowledge?
So … getting this back to mobile, (and by the way, when asking Mike what he would concentrate on if he were in news media today, he said going mobile and embracing social), we need to learn from this seemingly simple business model. Make the user experience easy, fun, and usable by anyone. When adding this philosophy to the points made above, only then can we start to truly drive our revenues in this arena.