3 Ways Leading Publishers are Creating Mobile Forward Experiences

Mobile Forward Experience

“Mobile is not the second screen, it is THE screen.”

That was the opening comment at the 2015 “The Future of Digital Publishing” workshop by Clive Dickens, chief digital officer at Seven West Media.1

And he was certainly right.

Mobile penetration in the US went from 20.2% in 2010 to 64.0% in early 2016, with the percent of global Web pages served on mobile skyrocketing from 0.7% in 2009 to 33.4% in 2015.23 With such growth, publishers need to consider how to attract, retain, and engage mobile users.

The answer: a mobile forward content strategy.

Here are three best practices leading digital publishers are employing to ensure a mobile forward content strategy.

Rethink Short Form Content
For many years it was assumed that the majority of mobile users preferred short form content when, in fact, an increasing number of studies show long form content is still king -even on mobile.

A recent Pew Research study conducted with James L. Knight Foundation and found that users engage with long form content almost twice as long as short form (125 seconds vs 57 seconds, respectively). Likewise, the study also found that long form content slightly increases the likelihood of users reading multiple articles.4

Amy Mitchell, Pew Research center’s director of journalism research explained, “These findings suggest that on small, phone sized screens the public does not automatically… reject digging into a longer-length news article. Instead, the average user tends to stay engaged past the point of where short-form reading would end, suggesting that readers may be willing to commit more time to a longer piece of work.”5

Invest in Video
Video is the dominant force of mobile content consumption.

Millennials consume mobile content like no other generation. Learn the winning formula publishers are using to successfully reach, attract, and retain them.

Online video accounts for 50% of all mobile traffic and is expected to reach 117.2 million regular viewers within the United States this year.67 Such heavy mobile usage ultimately accounted for 46% of all online video views in 2015.8

As mobile video consumption continues to grow, publishers are rapidly growing and improving their video content libraries to ensure their mobile properties offer the content users prefer.
Case in point? Tronc.

As part of a plan to reinvent itself as an online news organization, on June 2, 2016 the publisher formerly known as Tribune Publishing rebranded itself as Tronc. According to its Chairman, Michael W. Ferro Jr., “Right now we’re doing a couple hundred videos a day. We think we need to be doing 2,000 videos a day.”9

Consider Article Format
Aligning more with the presentation of content—rather than the format of the actual content—is the use of ‘show full article’ buttons which are placed a few paragraphs deep in an article and require users to click to continue reading.

The New York Times, which in 2015 had over 60% of its traffic attributed to mobile, noted that the ‘show full article’ button has resulted in a “moderate increase” in the time readers spent within their mobile site.10

Quartz and The Huffington Post have found that this tactic can also lead to increased revenue through ad engagement—both publishers placed an ad unit directly below their ‘read full story’ button and saw increased ad engagement.

According to Zach Seward, the VP of Product and Executive Editor of Quartz, “The Button helps because the ad is more likely to be seen, and in that moment, the user can choose to engage with it or carry on reading the story.”11

The winning formula for attracting, retaining, and engaging mobile users? A model that relies on mobile forward content—especially video.

Digital Disruptors

1. Waterworth, Samantha. “The Curious Case of the Shrinking Screen.” Filtered Media. N.p., 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 15 July 2016.
2. “Smartphone Penetration in the US (share of Population) 2010-2019.” Statista. N.p., 2016. Web. 15 July 2016.
3. Hazahal, Hafizah. “Why Mobile Raises the Stakes of Distributed Content for Media Publishers.” Inma, 29 Feb. 2016.
4. Harvey, Ellen. “How Mobile Readers Engage With Long- and Short-Form Content.” Publishing Executive. N.p., 25 May 2016. Web. 15 July 2016.
5. Tsukayama, Haley. “Surprise! People Will Actually Read Long News Stories on Their Smartphones.” The Washington Post. N.p., 05 May 2016. Web. 15 July 2016.
6. Abramovich, Giselle. “15 Stats Brands Should Know About Online Video.” Digiday. N.p., 02 Apr. 2013. Web. 15 July 2016.
7. “U.S. Mobile Phone Video Viewers 2019.” Statista. N.p., 2016. Web. 15 July 2016.
8. Jarboe, Greg. “Millennials Ensure 46% of Video Is Consumed Via Mobile.” Tubulars Insights. N.p., 21 Mar. 2016. Web. 15 July 2016.
9. Folkenflik, David. “Tribune Publishing Takes A Futuristic Step To Becoming ‘tronc’” NPR. NPR, 20 June 2016. Web. 15 July 2016.
10. Bilton, Ricardo. “Publishers’ Latest Mobile-engagement Trick: The Truncated Article Page.” Digiday. N.p., 05 Aug. 2015. Web. 15 July 2016
11. IBID.