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Unlocking mobile revenue and audience: New ideas and best practices

We have throughly entered the age of mobile news.

People are shifting so rapidly to smartphones and tablets, various data suggest, that mobile devices in the last year became the primary platforms for news. With that comes a whole new level of uncertainty and opportunity for news publishers.

The American Press Institute recently gathered more than 40 leaders in mobile journalism for a day-long Thought Leader Summit, in association with Google, to assemble the best current knowledge about mobile strategy and practices.

The event covered many angles — from mobile content choices, business models, technology, to staffing and more. The day featured in-depth discussions, small working groups that made recommendations in areas of their expertise, and participant surveys that explored how mobile works at leading organizations.

Mobile requires news organizations to transform how they function internally, present content, sell advertising and enagage users.

Afterward we spent time distilling the work of day into nine key concepts about how publishers should adapt their businesses and content for fast-growing mobile audiences.

The ideas, and in some cases the words themselves, are drawn from the few dozen participants of our summit. We don’t imply that every summit participant endorses every idea or view expressed in this white paper, but collectively they deserve credit for any wisdom you find useful in the chapters that follow.

The nine concepts are these:

  1. A mobile-first organization has editorial, technology and business teams working together in new ways
  2. Mobile news presentation should be different from web or print
  3. Mobile and social media are intricately linked
  4. Mobile apps and mobile websites are for quite different audiences
  5. What it really means to “engage” a mobile user
  6. What you don’t know about the “second screen” and “utility” behaviors of mobile users
  7. Advertisers buy audiences, not publications or platforms, and data is the key
  8. Mobile advertising needs more creative thinking
  9. How to hire or promote for mobile jobs

We know at API from our own research conducted with the the Associated Press and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago that a majority of American adults now get news on mobile phones — and that it not limited to the youngest age groups. At the same time, people continue to use traditional platforms like desktop websites, newspapers, TV and radio as well, but mobile is growing fast and is changing users’ behavior and expectations.

What we heard from our summit participants is that mobile requires news organizations to transform how they function internally, present content, sell advertising and engage users. And they had some pretty good ideas about how to do that, which are explained in the chapters that follow.

The summit participants were:

Libby Bawcombe
Digital Design Director, The Atlantic

Julia Beizer
Director of Mobile, The Washington Post

Cory Bergman
General Manager, Breaking News

Mark Briggs
Director of Digital Media, KING Broadcasting Co.

April Brumley Hinkle
Chief Revenue Officer, Texas Tribune

Greg Carfine
Director, Global Monetization Solutions, Millenial Media

Jeff Carney
Corporate Director Digital Content, BH Media Group

Dan Check
Vice President, Engineering & Product Development, Slate

Kevin Dale
News Director, Denver Post

Anthony De Rosa
Editor-In-Chief, Circa

Jonathan Ellis
Senior Editor for Digital Platforms, The New York Times

Chris Haines
Product Manager of SB Nation, Vox Media

Todd Handy
Vice President, Advertising Strategy & Performance, Deseret Digital Media

Alex Hardiman
Executive Director, Mobile Products, The New York Times

Alex Hardiman
Executive Director, Mobile Products, New York Times

Liz Heron
Emerging Media Editor, Wall Street Journal

Etan Horowitz
Mobile editor, CNN

Emily Ingram
Mobile Product Manager, Washington Post

Sarah Jennings
Director of Creative Strategy, Millenial Media

Jenna Kaufmann
Manager, Developer Marketing, Millenial Media

Damon Kiesow
Senior Product Manager, Boston Globe

Allen Klosowski
Vice President, Mobile & Connected Devices, SpotXchange

Chris Lee
President, Deseret Digital

Clifford Levy
Editor – NYT Now, New York Times

Lisa Lytton
Director, Digital Editions, National Geographic

Kia Makarechi
Senior Editor, Mobile and Innovation, Huffington Post

Clarissa Matthews
Senior Product Manager, The Atlantic

Alyssa Meritt
Digital Strategist, Urban Airship

Patty Michalski
Mobile Managing Editor, USA Today

Brendan Monaghan
General Manager, Slate

Grey Montgomery
Director, Mobile Initiatives, McClatchy Interactive

Kate Myers
Manager, Business Partnerships, NPR

Dao Nguyen
VP of Growth & Data, BuzzFeed

Stephanie Nguyen
Lead Designer, Cofounder, Silica Labs

Jeremy Pennycook
Mobile Technology Manager, NPR

Laura Rodriguez
Mobile Product Manager, Gannett Digital, Gannett

Bob Rose
Deputy Managing Editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Sarah Sampsel
Director of Digital Strategy, Washington Post

Sarah Schmalbach
Senior Mobile Product Manager, USA Today

Dan Shanoff
Director of Digital Development, USAT Sports/FTW

Davis Shaver
Technology Strategist, Digital First Media

Merissa Silk
Director of Mobile & Emerging Platforms, New York Daily News

Paul Smalera
Mobile Editor, Opinion, New York Times

Josh West
Lead Developer, The Atlantic

Erin Wilson
Senior Strategist, Mobile and Video, Advance Digital (Advance newspapers)

Antonio Zugaldia
CTO, Silica Labs

 

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