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Mobile Strategies For Newspapers

Posted by Dan Vigil on February 5, 2010

2008 was the first year more portable devices than desktops were sold. In 2009 portable sales continued to grow much faster than desktops worldwide. In 2012, IDC predicts, there will be 285.7 million portable devices sold worldwide, compared to only 156.6 million desktops. When technology actually works, real habit changes occur. The daily habit of reading the printed newspaper is on the decline as a more connected culture is developing different content consumption habits. Content on-the-go through mobile devices is on the rise. As determined from strategy sessions across the company, the time is now for newspapers to aggressively pursue a mobile content and sales strategy.

In the short run, many newspapers along with select vendors have already begun to release and sell mobile products and services around these emerging habits. A comprehensive strategy around content delivery and audience will allow them to more effectively take advantage of opportunities and grow more long term sustainable revenue. The right strategy will also position newspapers to grow along with the expected explosive increase in mobile devices and usage over the next 24 months.

With sustainable revenue as the goal, newspapers need to enlist the entire organization behind their mobile strategy. Starting with newsroom, journalists need to learn to package content for delivery on mobile devices. Technology and legacy IT departments need to engage and develop mobile delivery schemes and mobile applications for portable/mobile devices. Sales teams need to become small business trainers and consultants, helping businesses to adapt and take advantage of mobile advertising and sales opportunities. Production teams need to start developing and designing for smaller screens. Resources need to be shifted so that newspapers can more aggressively pursue mobile opportunities.

News Room Strategies:
1. Training on Mobile Content Creation: Newsrooms/journalists need to be equipped and trained to categorize, tag and store metadata on current and archived content. As we move away from a “push” environment and towards a “pull” environment where content is being pulled from connected devices, it becomes more important for newspaper to have their content properly tagged and categorized. Newspaper also have vast archives of valuable content that can be leveraged if they can find a way to curate and filter it for delivery on mobile devices.

2. Training on Mobile Content Delivery: Email, texts, tweets, video, audio and interactive databases are the preferred methods of consuming mobile content. Newsrooms need to be using more of these tools in their day-to-day operations. Journalists should be trained in using interactive content delivery tools and databases. Rather than simply writing a story, they can be publishing interactive content/context applications for mobile devices. If there’s a major event or story in the area, they can build tools to allow readers to follow the story/event.

3. Using Social News, Social Networking and Social Media Sharing: Newsrooms need to develop strategies and best practices around social media tools which allow them to generate content as well as engage new audiences. Tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flikr need to be used with a more clear strategy on audience development. Mobile/citizen journalism, UGC and crowdsourcing are all great sources of timely local content. Newspapers can act as a filter for local UGC content.

Technology/Integration Strategies:
1. Mobile Application Development: In house or outsourced developers who can quickly create and deploy category specific mobile applications—Prep Sports, Obits, Calendars, Classifieds etc. The opportunity is in the niches with mobile. Rather than simply mobilizing existing web sites, newspapers can build niche mobile applications and become mobile pure play leaders in niche markets and verticals.

2. Mobile Site Conversion and Development: In house or outsourced developers who can convert static web and print products to robust mobile sites. The right WAP sites today function just like mobile applications. As development tools improve, it is becoming easier to build more functional mobile web sites that do more than just browse.

3. Mobile Delivery Applications: IT departments need to coordinate and assist in delivering news content to mobile platforms. Custom applications need to be built to move content easily from legacy platforms to mobile platforms. The industry is moving to slow in this area. Rather than wait for updates to existing CMS and publishing systems, IT departments need to provide workarounds allowing for easier distribution of content to the web and mobile.

Sales Strategies:
1. Business Outreach/Training:
Sales teams need to become the experts on mobile opportunities, training and educating business owners on how newspapers can help them reach mobile audiences. Mobile apps and sites today are like the web was 10-15 years ago, businesses are just starting to engage and understand the opportunities.

2. Location Based Advertising Programs: As more devices are released with native GPS capability, applications around content allowing users to “Shop Nearby” , “Dine Nearby” will connect local consumers and businesses. Sales departments need to organize and build presentations around location based opportunities. New pricing models need to be put in place, as these programs will be much more effective than traditional display advertising.

3. Transaction Based Revenue: Rather than ad-only revenue, tools can be provided to allow business to conduct sales over mobile devices for a small transactional fee or percentage of purchase. Perhaps newspapers can become the “mobile Paypal” solution for local businesses.

Marketing Strategies:
1. Community/Educational Message: Just as sales teams will be educating businesses, marketing departments need to educate the community on how newspapers serve the mobile audience. Communicate all the information and resources available using our mobile sites, platforms and products. Educate the novice mobile users on how to access content.

2. Tech/Trendy Message: Marketing department should also find a way to let the tech savvy audience know what’s now available to them and how to access it. Communicate all the ways that mobile content can keep them up to date and on the cutting edge.

3. Local Partnerships: Trade with local phone retailers and auto dealers to make our mobile content available with every purchase. Free mobile E-edition with every phone, or free Local News application pre-installed. As free wifi proliferates an the cost of connection devices drops, opportunities will open up to bundle content with device purchases.

4. Mobile Opt in Database Development: Text messaging today is what email was 10 years ago. It’s still the tip of the iceberg for txt messaging and it’s already outpacing email as the preferred method of communication for younger audiences. Along with email, marketing departments need to engage in an aggressive mobile opt-in acquisition programs, allowing LANG to build its local, mobile database.

“The Word Is Alive”

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One Response to “Mobile Strategies For Newspapers”

  1. I think the most important is business training so the customer will be well educated to use the technologies

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