Apps are winning mobile, but not for publishers
In the shift to mobile, the tech cognoscenti agree that apps have trounced the mobile Web. Tell that to the publishers.
Despite over 14,000 apps in the Apple Newsstand alone, publishers have churned out apps in the hopes of getting a coveted piece of real estate on home screens.
And yet, news apps are becoming marginalized, according to Flurry. Across all mobile devices, app usage exploded in 2014, with user sessions up 76 percent, according to the analytics company. But the fastest growth occurred in shopping, productivity and messaging apps, while growth of news, media and games apps tapered off. The New York Times specifically has struggled to attract new readers with new ancillary apps.
Exact figures for publisher apps are hard to come by, but in the case of consumer magazines, digital subscriptions remain a tiny portion of their total circulation. Across 367 consumer magazines tracked by the Alliance for Audited Media, digital subscribers stood at 3.8 percent of their total circulation in the first half of 2014, up only from 3.3 percent a year earlier. As small as that percent is, it’s completely inflated by one publication: Game Informer, which accounts for about one-third of all digital editions.
“People keep trying, but at this point, the outlook is not good for apps,” said Steve Goldberg, managing director at Empirical Media, which consults to publishers. “It’s important that your content is accessible no matter where people want to access it. As a general rule, you get a very good user experience in an app, and you’re serving your best customers. The big challenge is, no one has really come up with a substantive way to monetize them.”
Publishers defend their apps on the basis of the consumer connection they foster, if not the ad revenue. Men’s Fitness has published two single-topic products and plans to do four this year after seeing people spend better than average time with them, publisher Patrick Connors said. Men’s Health charges about $23 for an annual subscription to its digital edition, making it a profitable, if small, business line, publisher Ronan Gardiner said.
“Certainly, from a circulation percentage it’s proving more of a revenue driver than an advertising perspective,” Gardiner said. “We do think there’s still an opportunity for it. It’s just not as great as we hoped it would be.”
It’s not just legacy publishers, either. Despite mounting evidence that news apps are not the way to go, digital natives like NowThis, BuzzFeed and Circa are all betting on apps as their core business or a complement to it.
Likewise, despite general industry trends, Tribune Broadcasting is rebuilding the apps for its 40-plus TV stations to make them more customizable.
“We see it still as an onramp to our content,” said Devin Johnson, svp and head of digital media at Tribune Broadcasting. “The app users are the crown jewel of the mobile world, because they’re seeking it out. They’re the most engaged users.”
Homepage image courtesy of Shutterstock
Welcome to the ‘Zoom Town’: Remote working has employees on the move
Americans in their 30s are relocating in droves as they embrace the freedom of working from anywhere — a trend that experts say will redefine the national landscape.
Google’s privacy plan brings changes, but not as many as marketers think
Weary marketers increasingly see the film “Groundhog Day”, in which the hero is doomed to repeat the same day over and over again, as an apt commentary on online advertising.
‘It was immediate’: The New York Post has started personalizing its commerce content recommendations
A personalized shopping content widget is the first in a long line of product changes meant to leverage The New York Post's customer data platform.
SponsoredDeep Dive: How AI steered The Ad Council’s campaigns during crisis
The past year transformed the way audiences respond to advertising. The pandemic, quarantine and social unrest radically altered consumers’ sensitivities, and real-time news cycles made every campaign message fraught with potential pitfalls. As NPR reported in 2020, organizations raced to keep up with the public’s changing perceptions of marketing and what resonated — or fell […]
Sales al fresco: Publishers adopt new tactics to gain essential face time with clients
Publisher commercial execs don't expect in-person sales meetings to return any time soon, but have adopted various in-person options in the interim.
Vendors jostle for position ahead of coming contextual pivot
Vendors hawking contextual wares have swamped publishers and agencies, hoping to grab media dollars once spent using third-party cookie targeting.