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Only a third of UK’s top 175 print media publications’ digital sites display effectively on handheld devices

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By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

April 13, 2013 | 3 min read

According to new research from Vibrant Media, only 32 per cent of the top UK print media publications display effectively on tablets and smartphones.

According to the research, daily news publications are the best performers in terms of how they render on handheld devices, with 60 per cent found to display effectively. However, women’s weekly magazines’ digital sites were the worst performers with only 22.4 per cent displaying effectively.

69 per cent of general weekly magazines do not have a digital site which displays effectively on handheld devices, while that figure increases to 73 per cent for general monthly publications.

Only 37.5 per cent of women's monthly magazines were found to have effective digital sites.

Fiona Salmon, publisher solutions director at Vibrant Media commented on the figures: “Most publishers still rely on websites developed for desktop users to serve their mobile consumers, but these desktop focused websites often render so badly on handheld screens they can make the ads redundant

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“Serving ineffective ads on mobile devices limits publishers’ opportunity to earn revenue from mobile ads, and may contribute to a sense among publishers that going mobile isn’t yet worth the effort.”

Salmon went on to say: “The Association of Online Publishers (AOP) predicts that by the end of 2013, twenty five per cent of all online traffic will be via mobile devices. Publishers must supply this demand. Currently, many ads on publishers’ sites aren’t performing effectively within the confines of handheld screens. They often appear on handheld devices as either huge and interruptive, or the creative appears so small the ads are almost impossible to see. Worse still – these ads are often clicked by mistake, creating a negative digital experience for mobile consumers. Publishers need to adopt nimbler formats that work with the small format display, that respect the consumer, respond to the consumer’s device and enhance rather than compromise the consumer’s experience.”

“A separate, fully optimised mobile site is not an absolute necessity to deliver effective mobile ads if publishers use the right technology. Burgeoning technologies will enable publishers to serve ads optimised for handheld devices, even if they are not placed within specifically mobile sites. However the digital sites publishers deploy must at least render effectively on smartphone and tablet screens to give consumers a quality experience that matches the quality of their editorial. If a site does not display effectively on the smaller screen of a handheld device, consumers will go to other sites for a better content experience.”

Vibrant Media's research was conducted in March 2013, using an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 to assess the digital sites of the 175 print media publications listed in the National Readership Survey (NRS) top line readership report for January to December 2012. The sites were assessed by their ability to render effectively on each of the mobile devices on a first visit. “Render effectively” is defined as the publication’s site displaying the publication’s content with sufficient legibility and usabilty to a handset user without zooming into content.

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