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Mobile strategy the new battle as news consumption shifts

October 20, 2010

On first glance, the Newspaper Association of America came up with some good in its latest online news consumption statistics.  Unique Visiter numbers had jumped from 72.1 million in April to 102.8 million in September, the association reported. In the meantime, NAA has changed its vendor – the stats are now measured by Comcast, not Nielsen as before (which is why the number aren’t directly comparable).

But on second glance, as the Nieman Lab points out, that’s not all there is.

Time spent, or engagement, is the metric that matters most to advertisers these days. Unique visitors, no matter how impressive a slice of the total web audience they represent, don’t deliver customers to advertisers. They key is whether site visitors are engaging — interacting — with the content and the advertising on the site, and that kind of engagement still eludes most online newspapers.

In essence, Martin Langeveld at Nieman argues, rising web traffic isn’t anything to get excited about anymore. Mobile is where it’s at these days.

… the audience is in the middle of another major shift in its digital news consumption from web browsers to mobile platforms — smartphones, e-readers and tablets. By sometime in 2012, cumulative sales of iPads, alone, will likely exceed the number of home-delivered newspaper subscriptions.

Read the whole article on the Nieman Lab website.

These new consumption patterns mean media organizations have to adapt their strategies. Mobile content is consumed differently, more leisurely, which gives them  an opportunity to engage readers more deeply (and since consumers are more willing to pay for mobile apps, bolster this revenue stream?).

People such as Steve Buttry, director of community engagement at TBD.com, are already pushing for a “mobile first” strategy. In one of his recent blog posts, he gives some pointers on how to develop a mobile strategy.

When he talked to me and my reporting colleagues at Medill on Oct. 14, he said those still working on a “online first” strategy were “fighting the last war,” not the current one. Mobile, he said, is where opportunities – and ad dollars – are.

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