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The Importance of Getting Mobile Right for News Publishers

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May 3, 2016 | 5 min read

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As part of The Drum MOMA Awards programme we hear from Tim Jones, Sales Director for Trinity Mirror's location-based ad network, pinpoint.

Tim Jones, Sales Director

It's an understatement to observe that the landscape has shifted for news media brands in the past two years. Recent US ComScore data revealed that mobile accounted for two out of every three minutes spent consuming digital media and confirmed that mobile users are increasingly choosing apps as the preferred format for this media fix. Total time spent consuming digital media in June 2015 via mobile apps hit 779 billion minutes (vs. 'just' 551 billion minutes on PCs). As readers spend more time on mobile devices and less time reading on newspapers, magazines, and desktop computers, all publishers must adapt their distribution strategies to align with this fundamental mobile shift.

Closer to home the latest UK Advertising Association / WARC Expenditure Report published this week revealed that, whilst last year UK advertising grew at its fastest rate since 2010, once again it was internet ad spend alone driving the numbers, showing an increase of 17.3% to £8.6bn with mobile accounting for a whopping 78% of that growth, growing to a total of £2.6bn. The challenge though, as ever, for a news publisher is to ensure that today's print dollars don't dwindle to tomorrow's digital cents and mobile dimes...

How is Trinity Mirror Group Performing in this Changing Landscape?

In March as a group we posted a record audience of 122.2m unique browsers for the month, according to the latest ABCe figures. That 122.2m figure represents a year-on-year increase of 31%. In terms of mobile performance, the number of people who view Trinity Mirror Group content exclusively on mobile devices has exploded in the past few years. In fact, we had more than 74 million unique visitors in March which represented over 60% of unique visitors. This take-off in mobile consumption stems primarily from our focus on social distribution and investment in mobile products (we have seventeen apps across its titles), all with the goal of getting mobile to offset print revenue declines.

Mobile and social distribution are in fact intrinsically linked, given some 35 percent of our mobile visits now come from social channels. So we're pushing out more of our content to third-party platforms like Facebook and Apple News, while also making pages compliant with Google AMP, the fast-loading mobile pages feature. We've also piloted Facebook's Instant Articles for three of our titles, The Mirror, Manchester Evening News and WalesOnline.

Embracing Innovation to Close the Mobile Gap

Operating at this scale of audience brings a new set of challenges and makes certain questions more pressing: how do we drive up the price point that we get for our inventory?, how do we accelerate the packaging of print and digital?, how do we monetise mobile at scale and mitigate against ad blocking?

To begin to answer these questions our strategic mantra has for a while been around a willingness to experiment and trial things, however big or small, either at a content level or an ad tech level. When you consider the typical app reader is more loyal to a brand than mobile web, unsurprisingly app development is a key plank to the group's mobile strategy, at both a title and network level.

This has meant both introducing new mobile products, like our latest, news aggregator app Perspecs, which aims to tell ''three sides to every story", and experimenting with in-app ads that are embedded in the editorial content and that can be replicated across devices. These native ''in-feed'' ads are generally more accepted by consumers, too, which helps with ad blocking on the rise.

At a network level another group innovation utilises native functionality to side step the challenge of ad blocking. pinpoint is our app-mediated, hyper-local mobile ad platform that targets our growing app-only audience with location-based advertising. The tech enables advertisers to send targeted mobile messages, previewed in sponsored push notifications, to a network of fully opted-in smartphone users, aggregated across the group's universe of seventeen national and regional app titles.

Having incubated the pinpoint business since 2014 and introduced increasingly sophisticated layers of geo-targeting capability (such as real time geofencing), as a group we're now excited by the prospect of using the proprietary location data to re-invigorate the mobile banner and serve more relevant in-app ads.

pinpoint are a sponsor of The Drum MOMA Awards and more details can be found here www.momas.co.uk and at www.pinpoint-targeting.co.uk

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