allen klosowski

+50% Mobile Traffic ... So what?

Eyder Peralta’s notes from Poynter’s Mobile News Summit

2015 is the tipping point for the mobile Internet. After years of accelerated growth, mobile traffic is overtaking stagnant desktop traffic for many publishers. We’re seeing this on NPR.org, too, where for the past three full months (June, July and August), 54% of NPR.org sessions have come from smartphones and tablets. (You can get the daily numbers via the Audience Intelligence dashboard.)

To drive home this point, the New York Times temporarily disabled their desktop homepage within their headquarters so the importance of mobile would be fully realized by their staff.

During last week’s Mobile News Summit in NYC, Poynter’s Tim Franklin summed up the situation, stating that the desktop Internet is, today, where print was five years ago.

NPR’s Eyder Peralta attended the summit and shared his notes with us:

  • This is the first year in human history that most of all Internet traffic is coming from mobile, says Emily Bell, of Tow Center for Digital Journalism.
  • What the metrics make clear is what he had thought of as the second screen has become the primary screen, says Allen Klosowski of SpotX, which studies Internet traffic trends. Basically, he says, Desktop has been relegated to offices and many people don’t touch a desktop computer for the rest of the day.
  • The problem with mobile? Ad dollars have not followed its huge growth.
  • Another problem specifically for news organizations? That this year was the year that social platforms decided they would also become publishers. Not a single news app is among the most used. Facebook, Twitter and Google dominate and now that they are releasing publishing platforms, “These guys control the audience and the distribution.”
  • Stacy-Marie Ishmael of Buzzfeed made two big points: 
    • Mobile is such an intimate medium that it’s hard to tell where product ends and editorial begins. In other words, developers and editorial folks need to be in the same room. 
    • You should not be publishing without seeing a mobile preview. More than 70 percent of Buzzfeed’s traffic comes from mobile … Big, beautiful Apple monitors skew how you think people are consuming your stories.
  • Damon Kiesow put it in a more philosophical frame: We have to have empathy for users. One way to do that is to put the metrics in front of editorial folks. Remind them, over and over, that more than 50 percent of their traffic comes from mobile. 
  • Kinsey Wilson, of the New York Times, is worried that the pace of change has accelerated so much that it’s very hard to keep up. “Mobile,” he says, “has changed everything profoundly.” The way to innovate is to create cross-divisional teams, give them deadlines and autonomy. One thing that mobile made possible is he says is dayparting. 
  • Kinsey digs a bit more into that audience/distribution problem: 80 percent of the time spent on the Internet on mobile is spent on a tiny number of apps. The overwhelming opinion at the summit was that news apps are simply for your hardcore users. So news orgs may not have a choice but to play on social platforms. It may no longer be a choice. [Lori chiming in here: News orgs DO NOT have a choice! Social is a must for all publishers.] 
  • David Cohn of AJ+ makes the obvious but rarely followed point: Platform dictates story form. Facebook, he says, is short, silent form. Raney Aronson-Rath, of Frontline, says YouTube is turning out to be long form. 
  • For the most part, with video, you have two seconds to capture people. Also, as Facebook has pointed out, you have three seconds for your stuff to load. If it doesn’t, you’ve lost your user for that session. As an industry, we are losing eyeballs in droves because of that problem. 
  • Dave makes a really interesting point about Facebook. That we shouldn’t treat it as a way to reach our core audience. Instead it should be used as a way to reach out to your audience’s friends. “On Facebook,” he says, “you’re not writing for your audience. You’re writing for your audience’s friends.” 
  • Michael Owen, who edits the Times’ NYT Now App, says mobile demands that newspeople be human. One of the best, free tools we have on mobile he says is “a voice that people can relate to.” Clarity and fluid writing is key on mobile. “If your words are tangled, they are going to be more tangled on a mobile screen,” he says. 

Whoa. Eyder just dropped a TON of knowledge on you. (Thanks, dude!) Check out #mobilenews15 for more insights from the Mobile News Summit.

Originally posted by deadsonrising

— Lori