Print Publishers Readying Themselves For Mobile

It’s been a long time coming, but print publishers are finally embracing new mobile technology and devices and preparing themselves for the quickly growing digital market.  New surveys published recently indicate that print publishers are focusing on the mobile channel as a prime opportunity to expand their brands, reach new mobile audiences and generate much needed additional revenue.

ABC and its digital subsidiary, ABC Interactive, noting an increase in publisher inquiries about auditing and reporting requirements for e-readers and smartphones, as well as membership growth from firms targeting digital publishing markets, conducted a survey entitled “Going Mobile: How Publishers Are Preparing for the Burgeoning Digital Market.”  The survey revealed that many print publishers, together with advertisers, are making huge strides to begin utilizing the mobile distribution channel.

Of the respondents, more than half believe the future business model of mobile content will be supported by both advertising and subscriptions, while nearly 70% agree that mobile is receiving more attention at their publication this year than last.  Only a third, however, believe their publication already has a well-developed plan for attacking and conquering the mobile market.

Publishers have already noticed a steady increase in mobile traffic to their Website, and 56% of “senior executive respondents” said their publication has already, or will be developing an application for a smartphone within the next 24 months.  Regardless, print publishers will need to embrace every aspect of mobile, well beyond simply aggregating the same content through an iPhone app.

“Although the mobile market is in its early stages, it offers tremendous opportunities for marketers to reach and interact with audiences,” said Edward Montes, executive vice president and managing director of Havas Digital North America. “With text and multimedia messaging, branded mobile apps, content sponsorships, display advertising, paid search, and location-based targeting, the platform becomes an integral component of the overall marketing strategy. It has enormous potential for clients, in my view, so it’s great to see newspapers and magazines embracing digital publishing.”

Among the conclusions of the survey, ABC interactive found that…

  • It’s early, but there are positive signs. The mobile market is definitely receiving more attention than ever before.  For some respondents, planning is still in the beginning stages and publishers are wading through the information and technology, trying to decide on the right strategy. For other newspapers and magazines, many mobile initiatives are well under way, supported by advertising and sponsorships.
  • Mobile will drive Web traffic. Most respondents believe that mobile will be responsible for a five to 50 percent increase in Web site traffic in the next three years.
  • Publishers are betting on both smartphones and e-readers and are actively exploring the vitality of both as a new distribution channel.  Both devices are in the early-adoption phase but are quickly gaining momentum with large daily newspapers and leading consumer magazines.
  • Early business models will be based on a combination of advertising and subscriptions. Publishers agree that the mobile market will be both ad- and subscription-supported and many anticipate that mobile will contribute to the bottom line in just three years. Publishers believe there are many opportunities for paid mobile advertising, including sponsorship, search, video, and banner ads.
  • Advertiser demand for accountability will grow as ad spend grows.  Respondents agree that independent third-party auditing would increase mobile’s credibility and is likely to be demanded by advertisers as ad spending increases in this area. Data should be reported on ABC statements.
Whether ready or not, those in the print publishing industry will need to solidify a solid mobile game plan to stay competitive against those who have embraced mobile since the beginning.  It should be interesting to see how it all plays out.