This morning, we were fortunate to participate in a conversation at the Digiday Mobile event in New York. Outbrain SVP John LoGioco moderated a talk with Jeff Moriarty, Vice President of Digital Products at the newly relaunched The Boston Globe and Brendan Monaghan, Vice President of Business Development at The Slate Group about how publishers are adapting to the mobile economy and the challenges that they face with their mobile strategies.
According to Moriarty, a crucial aspect of the Boston Globe design was accessibility across different devices. They used HTML 5 and responsive design to develop a site on a flexible grid that adapts to any screen size, offering a website that has app-like features on mobile. Instead of focusing on native apps, Moriarty views them as additives to their optimized site.
Slate currently has a different, dual approach by developing both native apps and a mobile-optimized site. Monaghan believes it’s still too early to tell where the publisher would want to focus and instead are developing both to see where the audience moves and reacts to the most.
Despite the two differences in approach to their mobile strategies, the overall challenges seemed to be the same across the board.
– The cost and question of development — Particularly, how much do publishers want to buy versus build, and once resources are brought in house, how do they manage the process?
– Monetization – Since the mobile web is still in early stages, Moriarty points out that there is still a hesitancy to link out or click on mobile links since whether or not the resulting page will be optimized for mobile is still top of mind. User experience is not the greatest when surfing the mobile web.
– Installation of apps and continued engagement – App installation becomes increasingly more difficult by the day as the competition builds — it’s much harder to get recognition from app stores and mindshare of users who may be a bit more choosy about what apps they select with such limited real estate on their screens that it was in the wee early days of smartphones. However, Moriarty points out that perhaps you can’t afford to NOT be in the app store since it’s where people are looking for content.
It will be interesting to continue to track the mobile universe as it evolves and see how publishers find ways to overcome these key challenges. At Outbrain, we’ll continue to help publishers with their mobile efforts, offering an easy way to serve recommended links to readers in order to increase page views within the publisher and offer external content links (that always point to mobile-optimized content) to help with the ever-hairy issue of monetization. We have a few early findings from our publisher clients about the performance of our mobile recommendations compared to their traditional website counterparts. The results are promising!