Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

The Mobile Landscape

The Mobile Landscape
Conference leaders encouraged newspapers to look at digital and online as whole and create a detailed digital strategy that goes beyond simply putting an app out, and looks at how that will fit into the bigger picture.

The second day of the conference was purely dedicated to mobile with two panel discussions on the mobile landscape: “Part One: Commerce and Coupon Strategies” and “Part Two: Content. Delivery. Engagement.” This landscape goes beyond apps or the latest electronic device, be it phones or tablets. These are all parts of a larger whole, a complex media environment. Conference leaders encouraged newspapers to look at digital and online as whole and create a detailed digital strategy that goes beyond simply putting an app out, and looks at how that will fit into the bigger picture.

President and publisher of the Arizona Daily Star, John Humenik opened the discussion with encouraging words on the state of mobile today. He said that this was a time for experimentation, that we’re just trying to find the right device to match the need and find the solutions in our local markets—be it from a reader’s perspective of the advertisers. He applauded the use of QR codes, which he called “a bridge to additional information.” They are just one example of how “we can marry together many different aspects of mobile technology.”

We can marry together many different aspects of mobile technology.”

Humenik stated that we are all either getting started in digital, trying to keep it afloat, or among the industry leaders. But, regardless of where we’re at, we need to push further. Technology is always changing, and we can’t afford to be left behind. With the right people and the right attitudes, you can make something happen. All you have to do is find the problem and create the solution.

The Commerce and Coupon Strategies session was moderated by Gordon Borrell, CEO of the Borrell Associates. He opened with a few forecasts of the state of advertising in print (for a more detailed look at Borrell’s forecasts, please see our January edition of Advertising Executive.) Borrell stated that mobile is increasing, and coming up very quickly. According to the recent forecasts, local mobile ad spending will increase dramatically and by 2015, it will be close to $13 million dollars. Newspapers can’t afford not to get into mobile, it’s a great place to make money. Borrell’s panel was composed of Sam Matheny and Art Howe. Art Howe delivered an inspiring speech on creating mobile websites, which you can read more about on page six.

Sam Matheny, who is the general manager at Raleigh, N.C.’s News Over Wireless (NOW) discussed the need to use mobile video. He stated that people will always want faster and easier access to information than what they can currently get.

He stated that people will always want faster and easier access to information than what they can currently get. 

This has been apparent since the origin of Reuters, when Paul Julius Reuter noticed that with the invention of the electric telegraph, they no longer needed to use outmoded methods of delivering news, like the use of homing pigeons.

News industries have briefly began the foray into mobile technology, and it’s important to look at what has been done and what we’ve learned so far...First and foremost, Matheny says you want, and need, to be everywhere. You need to develop a comprehensive approach to mobile, looking beyond a simple iPhone or iPad app.

Matheny pointed out that nature of mobile is personal (phones are personal, customized cases, bedazzled, it can become an extension of self), which gives you the challenge of needing to make yourself desirable and important enough, so that people want to make you a part of something so special to them. Once people make a decision on which apps they want, who they’re taking with them, they don’t change. So, you need to be ahead of the game with a solid offer, it’s really hard to catch up in the fast-moving technical world. But, at the same time, you can’t rush the process. Developers often want a solution that is fast, cheap and good—but you can’t have it all, you can pick two.

Developers often want a solution that is fast, cheap and good—but you can’t have it all, you can pick two.

Matheny also emphasized that the mobile is a different relationship than the printed word, you need to push short content to them, news alerts, etc. This is not a place of in-depth reporting.

Matheny explained how NOW’s Smart URL Technology can benefit digital initiatives. When a story is shared, this technology will detects what platform the recipient is on, computer, mobile phone,etc.Itsendsthemtocorrectsite and makes local news easy to share. It allows for brand promotion over a variety of platforms.

Matheny reiterated that mobile is a growing field. By the beginning of 2011, iPhone views tripled compared to January 2010. Android usage grew exponentially, as well, as well as an increase in mobile web and premium views. Matheny highly encouraged newspapers to get involved in mobile video. Cisco fore- casts that mobile video will account for 52.8 percent of all mobile data traffic in 2011, and rise to 62 percent by 2014. Matheny believes that pre-roll video campaigns can be a great revenue source for newspapers. He sited one example of how a local BMW dealer boasted 106,000 video views with their pre-roll ads, which were inserted in front of both news and weather content.

Matheny also urged newspapers to get specialized. He suggested owning a local, niche market in your area, and creating a mobile app to serve this demographic. This can go hand-in-hand with a special section. He gave two suggestions: high school sports, or a mom meet-up group, like “Go Ask Mom” in his area.

The Mobile Landscape presentation continued with a second panel on Content, Delivery and Engagement. Henry Lopez, web editor of the Santa Fe (N.M.) New Mexican, outlined two major questions you need to address with developing your digital strategy:

  1. Can we deliver content to users in the right way at the right time?
  2. What is the problem we are trying to solve for the readers and the advertisers? Do you have the capabilities to do it?

Answering those questions is your first step. As Humenik stated, first decide that you want to go into mobile and then figure out what you need to do from there. Once you know how your audience wants content and how you plan to deliver it to them, figure out what your capabilities are. Do you need to hire more staff? Do you need to find a vendor a company to partner with? And move from there.

Chris Reen, executive vice president of OPUBCO Communications stated that mobile continues to change your culture and urged papers to get into mobile aggressively and quickly. “You can monetize this,” Reen said, “we’re making a significant amount of money with mobile.”


Humenik defined the mobile landscape is a complex media environment:

  • Built on urgency
  • Powered by experience
  • Sustained by user engagement