Newspapers

Announcing Place London, The Business Summit on Indoor Location

Opus Research is proud to announce that Place, the premier global venue for education, opinion and partnership development for the indoor location industry, will be hosted in London, England on November 17, 2014 at the Tower Hotel.

Place London offers a unique opportunity to learn, discuss and strategize how indoor traffic analytics, combined with mobile and online data, empowers business intelligence and consumer engagement.

Among the many topics for discussion at Place London 2014 include:

Apple's Publisher Data Restrictions May Drive Them to HTML5

In a high profile and closely watched case, Apple and the Financial Times have failed to come to terms over the latter's ability to access customer-subscriber data through its iOS apps. Accordingly the publisher has pulled its FT iPad app from the iTunes app store. Apple also wants a cut of any subscriptions generated through the appstore. 

According to Reuters FT is more upset about lack of access to customer data than the 30% revenue share with Apple:

The Pearson-owned FT and Apple had been in negotiations for months but ultimately failed to reach a compromise, an FT spokesman said on Wednesday...

An FT spokesman said the company was encouraging subscribers to migrate to the Web-based app, which uses the open HTML5 standard that can be read by any browser, and is already being used by most mobile subscribers.

The spokesman described the disagreement with Apple as "amicable" and said the FT still planned future apps for the Apple App Store including one for the FT's luxury weekend magazine 'How To Spend It' as early as September.

This would be funded by advertising, however, not subscriptions, so there would be no conflict with Apple over who owns the subscriber data.

Apple's position on subscriber-customer data is wrong and it will drive more publishers to go HTML5 exclusively if there isn't a compromise. Amazon is also trying to migrate iPad users to its HTML5-based "cloud reader" because its Kindle app is no longer permitted to link to the Kindle store. Walmart's Vudu is equally promoting an HTML5 web app as opposed to an iPad app. 

App usage has gained in the recent past with Nielsen reporting that apps trump mobile web in terms of time spent:

The average Android consumer in the U.S. spends 56 minutes per day actively interacting with the web and apps on their phone. Of that time, two-thirds is spent on mobile apps while one-third is spent on the mobile web.

 Android smartphone apps-vs-web

Consumers want apps, which offer a better user experience, and publishers want to build them -- but not at any cost.

Many pundits early on predicted that the complexities of platform fragmentation would cause developers and publishers to choose the mobile web over apps. They've been wrong to date. But Apple's unreasonable publisher-data retention policies may wind up unintentionally driving them to the mobile web after all. 

NAVTEQ Local-Mobile Ad Performance Good, but not Best in Market

NAVTEQ put out a press release yesterday announcing results of "its first hyper-local ad campaign targeting millions of users of the Poynt application." Poynt is a search app. The NAVTEQ ads tested were location and/or contextually relevant to user queries.

Here are the results: 

The maiden campaign featured hyper-local ads for national gas station and restaurant brands throughout the United States. All four campaigns performed three to five times better than the industry average* click-through rate (CTR) of .49 with an average CTR of 2.68% across campaigns. Post-click user engagement ranged from 4.49% to as high as 11.25%, depending on advertiser. 

The 2.7% CTR and engagement numbers are better than average, but still not as strong as those reported by several others offering local-mobile advertising or location-based ads on mobile devices. Off the top of my head I know that TeleNav, xAD, Placecast and JiWire have local-mobile ad performance data that exceed the reported NAVTEQ metrics.

TeleNav previously said that ads on its navigation software saw nearly 4% CTRs and 24% conversions (in terms of users driving to store locations after seeing an ad): 

[Ads] resulted in a click thru rate of 3.8 percent, which is significantly greater than traditional mobile and online display ads. Moreover, the data indicates that the conversion rate of users who drive to the business location after clicking on an ad presented in TeleNav's local search results is nearly 24 percent. 

Local-mobile ad network xAD told me that it sees average local search CTRs of 5% to 8%, with some campaigns exhibiting higher response rates. Google also previously reported that after a local-mobile lookup 61% of users called a business and 59% visited a location in person.

The larger point is that directional searches on the go are highly commercial in nature with action likely to be taken by the individuals conducting them. 

Verve: 9 Million Mobile Readers of News

News is a very popular category on mobile devices, with more than 50% of mobile users accessing some form of news content on their handsets. And now with the iPad and its competitors (Kindle, et al) there is a serious mobile-news consumption device, the tablet.

Wired magazine says that already 26% of its mobile traffic is coming from the iPad.

Now mobile platform platform provider and local-mobile ad network Verve Wireless has teamed up with the Audit Bureau of Circulations to capture more "granular" data on news consumption via mobile devices. Here are the metrics the partnership will help generate and monitor:

  • Mobile audience by device type
  • Mobile audience by day and day part
  • Audience access points (app, mobile browser, e-reader)
  • Unique visitors
  • Page views

Wired says that its iPad users appear to have substituted the device for the iPhone so the magazine preliminarily concludes the audience hasn't necessarily grown. However it implies that Pad users are more engaged.

The Verve-ABC release offers some Verve-specific metrics on mobile news consumption:

  • [Verve] anticipates serving more than 2.2 billion mobile news pages in 2010.
  • Mobile advertising revenues have grown across Verve's network of media partners 30 percent each month since November.
  • In March, more than 160 million mobile news pages were served, a 214 percent increase year over year.
  • More than nine million readers accessed news from mobile devices via Verve's mobile publishing platform in March, representing a 243 percent increase compared to the prior year.
  • More than four million of its mobile news apps have been downloaded to  . . . smartphones.

Verve operates a local-mobile ad network; so do LSN, Where, IAC/CitySearch and LocalAdXchange.

Will FourSquare Survive Facebook's Onslaught?

Facebook is the dominant "mobile social network." We know this from Opera, Nielsen, our surveys and other third party data. We know for example that more than 70 million Facebook regularly access the site on a mobile device. No other network appears close (notwithstanding GroundTruth's assertion that MySpace is the largest mobile social network). 

Silicon Alley Insider now reports that "Facebook Is Working On A Foursquare-Killer." As a digression it's lamentable that "Fill-in-the-blank Killer" has to appear in every third technology headline. Having said that, here's the relevant part of the discussion:

A source briefed on the matter tells us Facebook is working on a feature that will allow users who access the network from mobile devices to "check-in" and broadcast their current location to all their friends.

If Facebook does add check-ins for mobile devices does it "kill" FourSquare? My answer would be "no." Facebook has a massive mobile user base, true, but FourSquare has a loyal following. Just as various Google products were launched in many instances with the moniker "X-Killer," only in a few cases has this actually turned out to be true. Navigation is one of them.

However, Google Checkout didn't kill PayPal. Google Base (now closed) didn't kill Craigslist. Knol didn't kill Wikipedia. Lively didn't kill Second Life (yes, it's still around). Okut didn't kill . . . well, it hasn't done very well outside a few isolated markets. And Facebook hasn't killed Twitter, despite becoming much more Twitter-like over the past six months. 

I had predicted that Facebook would buy FourSquare, but instead the social media site appears to be trying to adopt some of its functionality. FourSquare founder Dennis Crowley is a smart guy and understands that he has to keep ahead of his competitors with new content and features.  

Quoting Crowley on his reaction to the report, SAI reports:

For his part, Foursquare cofounder Dennis Crowley told us he fully expects Facebook and others to launch "check-in" functionality, making it "commodity by the end of the year."

Dennis says Foursquare's survival depends on providing "the most incentive for a user to check-in." Right now, Foursquare awards frequent users badges and calls the users who check-in at certain venues the most "mayor."

"I think we're doing this better than anyone else and I think we'll continue to do so. We have so much stuff on the whiteboard that we haven't even touched yet... we're really just getting started."

FourSquare's movement further into the mainstream is what could be affected by Facebook, if the latter copies FourSquare's features. However simply adding mobile check-ins alone won't truly impact FourSquare. As I've said, check-ins predate FourSquare and it's not all that FourSquare offers to its users.

Will Barcodes Bring New Life to Print?

There's lots of discussion about whether the avalanche of new tablets/eReaders/slates will "save" traditional journalism and media. No is the short answer; journalism and publishers will have to save themselves, although the new devices may create new opportunities.

What's more interesting is the way in which mobile can integrate with traditional print to enable the medium become more dynamic and more "accountable." This has been going on some time sporadically here and there, most notably with ads including short codes. More publishers are experimenting with QR/barcodes now. 

The NY Times has a lengthy piece about it: 

[M]agazines like Esquire and InStyle are adding interactive graphics to their articles, while Entertainment Weekly and Star are including them in ads.

Meanwhile, publishers using text-messaging programs to try to enliven their pages are packing information into the messages and using reader responses to calibrate their coverage.

The article also discusses the early and failed CueCat print-online convergence effort that attempted to do something similar but relied on specialized hardware. Now with smartphones everyone has (or millions have) the necessary device. 

Meanwhile Time Inc. is using QR codes to promote this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in interesting and creative ways:

Print ads containing the promotional barcodes will begin to appear Jan. 25, two weeks before the issue’s Feb. 9 publication date. The ads will run in SI and other Time Inc. titles like Time, People and Fortune.
 
The barcodes also will appear on Las Vegas hotel room keys and in New York City subway car ads.
 
Users who snap a photo of the barcode with a camera phone will see photos of this year’s “rookie class,” or first-time swimsuit issue models.

The technology is from JagTag, which doesn't require end users to download a barcode reader and delivers multimedia content as well as text. This opportunity exists for magazines, newspapers and Yellow Pages. 

The media get the added value of measured response rates, which may capture activity that call metering does not. And the consumer gets immediate, additional information -- and the potential ability to make a purchase on the spot (or save for late purchase). 

In all it makes traditional print media much more interesting to advertisers and potentially consumers as well. Accordingly we should continue to see the growing integration of mobile and barcodes into print media advertising and editorial over the next 12 to 24 months. Publishers and advertisers will have to continue to experiment and find the most effective and useful implementations. 

Right now we're still in the early "novelty" phase. 

Verve, AP Offer "White Label" Mobile App

Verve Wireless and AP have joined forces to offer a mobile app for newspaper and other local media publishers. It's also an effort to build an ad network, which Verve has been doing since its inception as a platform for newspaper publishers and other media companies to mobilize their content. The white label app works across the major smartphone platforms. 

According to the press release from yesterday:

The new white label service is based off the award winning AP Mobile news network application developed for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile, and Nokia N series devices. To date, it has been downloaded by more than 2.4 million people and has more than 55 million page views a month. The application provides readers with features such as rich graphics, audio and video as well as breaking news alerts.

The new service was built to directly address expense and time constraints that publishers would face in building, hosting, maintaining and upgrading their own cross-platform mobile application. This allows publishers to streamline operations under one vendor and standardize content presentation, usage metrics and advertising delivery . . .

Verve Dashboard provides publishers with a means to manage mobile executions in one place. It offers controls for use by editors, advertising, marketing, sales, and content creators. Publishing options include mobile Web, and client applications (all platforms), as well as video. Advertising options include display, messages, interstitial, video, and national geo-targeting, with the ability to manage one campaign across all properties utilizing the national network. Reporting and analytics are also provided through the dashboard. 

Publishers are increasingly looking to mobile as a critical platform for distribution and potentially revenue, but most local media companies are probably not able to put out competitive apps and mobile properties, let alone monetize them themselves. 

Publishers: Mobile and eReaders/Tablets Important Distribution Platforms

The North American Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) recently surveyed its 4,000-strong "U.S. and Canadian newspaper, magazine and business membership to learn more about publishers’ current mobile initiatives, their strategic plans, and ABC’s potential role." What the organization found was the there's growing interest in mobile and most publishers increasingly see it as a critical distribution platform. This includes the emerging eReader/Tablet segment.

Here are the survey's key findings:

  • More than 80% of respondents believe people will rely more heavily on mobile devices as a primary information source in the next three years.
  • Nearly 70% agree that mobile is receiving more attention at their publication this year than last.
  • More than a third believe their publication already has a well-developed plan for attacking and conquering the mobile market.
  • 44% of respondents who track mobile’s impact on their Web site traffic said the devices increased visits by up to 10% today. Half believe mobile traffic to their Web sites will increase by five to 25% in the next two years.
  • Among senior executive respondents, 56% said their publication has plans to develop a smartphone application in the next 24 months, in addition to the 17% of respondents who already have an app in production.
  • Regardless of mobile’s anticipated rise, ABC publisher members do not plan to abandon their print publications in favor of a digital-only product in the near term.
  • While 55% believe that digital delivery of their publication is important to their strategic future, three-fourths believe that their publication will be available in a print form five years from now.
  • More than 50% of survey respondents believe the future business model of mobile content will be supported by both advertising and subscriptions.
  • Nearly a third believe that mobile will have a significant impact on their publication’s revenue in just three years.

Here are some charts from the report:

Picture 12Picture 10Picture 9

Picture 7

Souce: All Charts ABC

In terms of the eReaders or tablets that publisher-respondents thought would have the greatest impact on the market:

  1. Apple (tablet is still a well-established rumor)
  2. Amazon
  3. Sony
  4. Plastic Logic
  5. First Paper
  6. Other

___
Related: Microsoft to make "another run" at the tablet. And Archos' Android Tablet is about to hit the market.

Fluent: 'Google News' for the iPhone?

There are already a ton of news sites and apps for the iPhone: AP, NY Times, USAToday, WSJ and so on. And of course there's Yahoo! News and Google News. But a new site from Fluent Mobile could become the equivalent of Google News for the iPhone crowd -- a go-to aggregator that makes reading news more convenient and comprehensive.

Fluent only aggregates content that has been specifically optimized for the iPhone. It also "pre-fetches" news so that users can still read the content if there's no Internet or cell connection.

Here's the release announcing the company and the app. If or when many of the source sites start charging it will be interesting to see what happens. The iPhone of course now makes it possible to charge a subscription within an app. This would presumably be a hand-off to a page that would command a payment to get to the article. 

How this free news aggregator, future paid hand off will work will be interesting to watch. In the old days online many newspaper sites required registration before getting to the article, which often caused consumer abandonment. (The Steven Brill cross-newspaper payment platform initiative might be useful here; pay once and get access to many sites.)

Fluent News lets you move pretty seamlessly from the list of stories (with branded icons to convey sources quickly) to the publisher sites and back. It's a good user experience and should gain adoption fairly quickly. 

Ads (by AdMob) are located at the bottom of pages, which become the middle of the page as one scrolls through the stories -- improving their visibility. 

Here's the Fluent News video demo

More Traditional Media-SMS Integration

While traditional media ads have included URLs in ads for years, there's something that hasn't quite worked about it because of the lag between seeing or hearing the ad (out and about) and the consumer's ability to get to a PC with Internet access. But mobile phones change that. A consumer can see an ad and take immediate action regardless of where she is.

Increasingly we see integration of SMS codes into newspaper and magazine ads, TV (in a few cases), outdoor and digital out of home. There's also the experimental integration of QR or 2D barcodes in traditional media ads.

These mobile integrations make the traditional media ad dynamic and immediately actionable. They also make them more measurable. Along those lines I was walking down the street in San Francisco and saw the following ad at a bus stop:

SMS bus stop ad

Text outdoor

I also saw the movie "The Hangover" the other night and saw a poster at the theater for another movie that only featured a 2D barcode in the center of the ad and no title. It had a prompt to text to a short code to get information about the movie (and probably add yourself to the list to receive information).

I would imagine that within a year the SMS option in the ad above will be a common feature of any ad that offers a call to action. 

___

Related: Retailer Lane Bryant (in partnership with SmartReply) uses direct mail and email to get users (with a coupon/discount incentive) to opt-in to receive promotional SMS alerts and notifications.

Newspapers and the Mobile Imperative

The Associated Press put out a release summarizing data from a year of being on the iPhone and more broadly in mobile. Here are some of the numbers from the release:

  • 55 million local stories have been read on AP Mobile, www.apnews.com, since its May 2008 launch.
  • AP member participation has grown 887% with more than 1,000 trusted local sources choosing to distribute their news on AP Mobile -- compared to 107 AP member news organizations that signed up at the May 2008 launch

Demographics:

  • Age - 63% of AP Mobile users are in the coveted 18-34 age bracket.
  • Income - 53% of AP Mobile users earn more than $75,000 per year.
  • Gender - Men represent 78% of traffic to all subject areas, and 82% for sports.
  • Ethnicity - AP Mobile users include members of virtually all ethnic groups.
  • Education - More than half of AP Mobile users have bachelors or advanced degrees.
  • Employment - 80% of AP Mobile users are currently employed.

Usage:

  • On average, AP Mobile users spend 17 minutes per month interacting with AP mobile applications and apnews.com.
  • More than 50% of AP Mobile news accessed fall in the content category of Top Stories, followed by Local News (21%), Entertainment (9%) and Sports (7%).
  • iPhone and BlackBerry users both average 7 page views per visit to AP Mobile.
  • AP Mobile users access news consistently throughout the week - just as much, if not slightly more, during the first half of the week, including Sunday.

We wrote about the AP iPhone app when it launched (Verve Wireless provides infrastructure).

Steve Smith in his "Mobile Insider" column this week writes about newspaper and magazine opportunities to "re-establish" themselves in mobile:

[M]edia brands have a golden opportunity on mobile to reestablish some of the brand equity and loyalty they may have lost in the commoditized content environment of the Web.  There are aspects of mobile that actually replicate the disappearing print world very effectively. 

I agree and wrote something similar regarding newspapers in 2007:

Mobile now offers an opportunity for newspapers to get out in front of the market and establish the kinds of relationships with mobile consumers they probably wish they had done more proactively online . . . The analogy between the state of mobile and "the early days of the Internet" is a strong one, although there are some key differences. But getting out in front of mobile now gives newspapers a chance to rectify mistakes of the past.

In the past year most major news organizations have established themselves in mobile and even have iPhone apps in many cases. 

LSN: Local Mobile Platform/Ad Network

Yesterday, Local Solutions Network launched mobile widgets on the Yahoo! Go platform. Today I had a chance to speak with Lee Durham, CEO of LSN about it and a range of other mobile topics.

The company has been around since 2001 and forged early deals with carriers in the US to deliver local news and other local content to the carrier deck (and beyond). The content comes via local TV affiliates and, increasingly, newspapers. 

Here's an example of one of the company's sites:

LSN 2

LSN 1

The Yahoo! Go widget launch is part of LSN's larger effort to diversify beyond the carrier deck, where a majority of LSN's 75 million monthly page views come from. However there's an iPhone app on the way and plans to expand to other smartphone platforms.

Durham said the company serves mobile banners and video pre-roll today. He added that he sees CTRs on banners of greater than 2% depending on the campaign. But he believes that once location is truly unlocked by the carriers that LBS and geotargeted ads will explode. 

We also discussed SMS as a customer acquisition tool, as well as a marketing tool for traditional publishers. LSN offers a license-based SMS platform to clients that allows them to tie-in traditional media with mobile promotions/offers. Durham thinks that traditional marketers will need to experiment with SMS in their conventional media before they're ready to embrace mobile advertising more fully. 

I think that's probably right in thinking about the mobile advertising adoption curve. SMS in the US and around the globe has monstrous volume, which is impressive to marketers. For almost every age category, SMS now exceeds call volume. Here are some recent numbers from Nielsen:

SMS volume by age

Paying for SMS data plans, now a must, will similarly be the "entry point" for consumers in buying mobile Internet data plans.

Gumiyo Makes Pitch to Newspapers

Mobile classifieds platform Gumiyo is pitching the newspaper industry that a suite of new tools and services represent an important new revenue stream for the beleaguered industry. (Here's our previous post on Gumiyo.)

From the press release earlier today:

Gumiyo's Mobile Ready Platform can be privately labeled and integrated directly into a publication's existing ad sales business, providing in-depth, interactive, and media-rich content that is linked to the advertiser's display and liner ads. The platform can also mobilize a paper's classifieds section by delivering matched listings to on-the-go consumers, and creates additional opportunities to engage those consumers beyond the printed page. Combinations of its unique engagement tools keep local consumers and advertisers connected and communicating. 

Rather than a mobile-only classifieds platform this "mobile ready" platform offers the ability to link SMS messages and mobile web content to static print ads. In terms of classiifieds activity in mobile, note that "Craigslist" was the #3 mobile search query from Yahoo! this year. 

The integration between print and other forms of traditional advertising and mobile will only gain steam and could deliver meaningful mobile marketing revenues in the near term. (See also Yell Puts QR Codes on Print Directories.)

HipCricket, among others, is also working in this "online-offline" segment, linking traditional media and mobile. 

Verve Joins Forces with Zvents

Verve Wireless, which is behind the AP Mobile News Network and hosts mobile sites for many newspaper publishers, has announced a deal with Zvents, which also works with lots of newspapers. This will enable Verve to offer and integrate Zvents content into the mobile sites it builds and hosts for its customers.

In addition to a range of partners, Zvents also provides local events content to YP Mobile, AT&T's iPhone application. 

Mobiya Broadens Its Model to Become General SMS Ad Play

UK-based Mobile classifieds platform and provider Mobiya is shifting its model to become an SMS ad network. Classifieds still form the content basis for the network. But ads will be sold around that "inventory."

I sent an email to founder Sacha Vekeman about the change. He told me they have "Decided to move away from a premium rate SMS model and move the business model of our company to sell the outgoing SMS inventory to brand and response advertisers."

Vekeman added:

"After two full years of testing various user experiences with consumers, we got it right. After two full years of testing pricing models with consumers, we know what they want to pay, for what, when. After two full years of business development and Publisher’s deals, we have a foundation of traction for inventory sales."

Vekeman said Mobiya can offer location, context and behavioral data on its users as part of the proposition to brand and direct response advertisers. In the US at least the SMS ads segment is largely underserved. 4Info, CallGenie, MoVoxx and a few others occupy the space. But SMS is to mobile Internet advertising what search is to display: not sexy but where the volume is. 

Earlier I wrote about Mobiya as a potential eBay acquisition

I’m also guessing that mobile classifieds platforms are on the list, especially the EU-based Mobiya. eBay owns a range of classifieds properties in the US and Europe, most notably Kijiji.

Reports and Predictions: Handset Growth Steady, Mobile Ads Uncertain

There's an interesting paradox in mobile. On the one hand we have firms such as Portio Research forecasting continued "robust" handset growth amid the global economic downturn. According to Cellular-News:

A new report from Portio Research reveals that over half the world now uses a mobile phone and predicts that 80% of the world’s population will be doing so by the end of 2013 - a staggering 5.8 billion people.

But then there's this bit about declining ARPU:

Meanwhile despite rising worldwide mobile voice and data revenues Mobile ARPU continues to decline and is predicted to fall from USD 23.2 in 2005 to USD 15.8 by the end of 2013, largely because additional subscriber growth is likely to come from low per capita income markets.

Separately, others are predicting that nascent mobile advertising growth is likely to suffer in an uncertain economic climate. Despite billions of users and growth in mobile data/text and Internet access, some are predicting that the growth in mobile ads will slow because of the "unproven" nature of mobile advertising. Adify's Russ Fradin is quoted in a BusinessWeek article along those lines:

When budgets are tight, advertisers tend to look for proven methods, such as ads placed alongside a Google or Yahoo search, and place less emphasis on experimental venues, such as social networks, experts say. "Mobile and social networks will be hit," Fradin says.

Mobile advertising's development is inevitable. The question is how quickly and in what precise segments of the market will revenues develop? Fradin's comment is correct; in a time of uncertainty there's retrenchment and conservatism among media buyers and planners. No one wants to take risks and lose his job over novel strategies, which may or may not perform as anticipated. 

But the numbers in mobile can't be ignored. It's just for the infrastructure to develop more fully and for agencies and marketers to become educated and comfortable with the medium. That's probably about a 2-3 year cycle. 

Swedish Newspaper Links Local Sales to Cell Phones

Agence France Press reports that Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, is selling Nokia phones with direct links to its mobile content. DN subscribers can purchase the Nokia 6120 3-G phone on the paper's Web site. Then, after signing up for a 199-kronor ($31-dollar) monthly plan, they will be able to surf the daily's mobile Web site by simply pressing a special "DN" button on the faceplate.

The offer highlights the lengths that so-called "dead tree" media have to go to stay in the call flows of their local audiences. A newspaper spokesperson simply said that it is a matter of "removing obstacles" to subscribers accessing content on the mobile Web.