Publishing’s Biggest Mobile Opportunities

This is the first story of a four-part series looking at how publishers are organizing themselves to thrive in the post-desktop era. It is brought  to you by Vizu, A Nielsen Company, the leader in measuring digital brand advertising effectiveness.

Every year, for the last decade, the industry has proclaimed, “It’s the year of mobile!” Perhaps we’re finally there.

In Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report, she noted there are 1.5 billion mobile users in the world and mobile now makes up 15 percent of all Internet traffic. For most publishers, their mobile traffic ranges from 15 percent to as high as 60 percent. This means there are plenty of opportunities for publishers: opportunities to avoid the mistakes made during the transition to digital, opportunities to reach people in more relevant ways and opportunities to bring advertisers to the table. Digiday spoke with executives from Forbes, Hearst, Time Inc., Salon, Huffington Post and Harvard Business Review about what they see as the biggest opportunities in mobile.

Meredith Levien, CRO, Forbes Media
While the value of banners on mobile devices for consumers, publishers and marketers remains to be proven, the impact of compelling content and headlines — the currency of engagement in social media — will only be amplified through mobile. The best business opportunity for publishers in mobile is to help marketers find transparent ways to contribute to conversations that are already happening. Those publishers that help brands be an organic part of their content ecosystems and present relevant, original and interesting content through storytelling will be successful. If the content has merit — which in most cases means that it’s free of traditional “pitch” tactics — and the publisher has the system to help promote and distribute the content, the marketer can achieve meaningful social amplification and ROI.

Grant Whitmore, vp and gm, Hearst Digital Media
The biggest opportunity that mobile gives to publishers is the chance to reach audiences on their most personal devices. Unlike computers, which were invented for work, phones and tablets are intended for communication and entertainment. We take them everywhere — and we love them. Mobile devices are most people’s first point of contact with the world in the morning and their closest companions in the bed before sleep. They keep us company as we stand in line for coffee, and they make us laugh when we sneak a peek at our feed during mind-numbing presentations. Never before have publishers had the chance to always be there — as part of an ongoing conversation and as a source of inspiration for our readers and viewers. Mobile changes that — we are now just a pocket, purse or briefcase away from creating meaningful engagement. That’s powerful. That’s why mobile matters.

Cindy Jeffers, CEO and CTO, Salon Media
With the emergence of consumer wearable computing such as Nike+ Fuelband, MC10’s Checklight, more and more we will see mobile phones acting as a hub for a set of wearable devices that are doing everything from alerting you of the latest breaking news headlines to tracking your personal health. In the news realm, there is an opportunity to engage with users through these smaller devices in a more discreet, real-time fashion.

Adam Solomon, vp of digital ad products & operations, Time Inc.
For a media company, the ability to connect people with the stories that matter to them is a huge opportunity. We need to better understand how, when and why consumers are using their devices and make sure we’re programming our content based on what we know about them. If you think about usage throughout the day, consumers are headline surfing on their mobile phone when they wake up – they’re thinking “tell me what I need to know this morning”– then midday, they’re looking to peel back the layers on the stories that are most relevant to them, and later in the evening, there’s a more immersive experience on tablet mobile devices where longer-form content comes into play. At Time Inc., we’ve done a ton of research on this — we call it the Arc of the Day. And through our new platforms like Time Amplify, we’re now weaving our advertising partners into the arc of the day. We’re pairing the stories that matter most with an advertiser’s message and making the whole experience an authentic, seamless one.

Roy Sekoff, president and co-creator, HuffPost Live
Having spent the better part of the last 18 months building and launching HuffPost Live, we’re betting that the biggest opportunity in mobile is to be found in the growing consumption of interactive live-streaming video across multiple devices – allowing viewers to cut the cable cord while remaining fully connected. I also see huge upside in the ability of average citizens to use social media and smartphone cameras to commit acts of journalism and bear witness to the key events of our time – from Tahrir Square to Florida fundraisers.

Eric Hellweg, managing director of digital strategy, Harvard Business Review
The biggest opportunity in mobile for publishers is the chance to recast or reaffirm your brand’s relevance to people, based on the mobile platform. People have a unique relationship with their mobile devices, and the devices serve a unique need — or a set of unique needs — for them. Some publishing brands will find the mobile transition pretty effortless, but I’m guessing most will need to really rethink how they can provide value in this environment. How do people want to engage with your content? What job are they hiring your brand to do in the mobile realm? It’s a huge opportunity to forge a new connection if it’s played right.

Image via Shutterstock

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