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Five trends in mobile content

“2016 won't be the year when digital magazines get to die” was a headline from a media trade website earlier this year. And it is a sentiment that Jonny Kaldor, co-creator Pugpig, admits makes him feel rather depressed, as he passionately believes in the potential of editorially driven apps.

Rather than than wasting away he thinks that in many ways technological and social innovations have made them even more relevant now than when they launched half a decade ago.

Kaldor's company, Pugpig, have been making apps for five years and boast a wide range of media clients including The Daily Telegraph, Grazia and FourFourTwo.

He began by asking the question today at FIPP London ‘why is there this fatigue with apps?

He explained that audiences are not gravitating to the apps and there is a real problem with discovery - how do you get people to find an app? Discovering content on the mobile web is easy as 70 per cent of traffic to most editorially sites comes through social or search.

With apps you have to look for the app, know the app’s name and find it in the store and download it. There are also issues in getting people to come back into the app more than once a month. It is often hard to create a habit.

Then as Jonny explained there is also the question of cost. “When the iPad came out people spent lots of money on apps. Now though the business case for investing large amounts of money in apps has gone.

Jonny admits that there is not a lot of innovation going on and this is becoming a problem.

Kaldor then began to go through his five key mobile content trends and explain how important that they could be to the ongoing future of editorially driven apps.

Firstly Jonny argued that “smartphones are becoming ever more important in the content we consume.” Also that tablet adoption is catching up with laptops and desktop computers.

Jonny said that media companies need to give more thought to the type of smartphones that people are using rather than just always defaulting to the iPhone. “Android is far more important than people in the industry credit it. Admittedly people are less likely to pay for content via Android, but still it staggers me that companies don't have Android apps." 

Jonny also added that companies needed to give thought to design bearing in mind that there is now wide variety in the size of screens of phones and tablets. He advocates taking the principle of responsive design for mobile web and applying it to how you deliver app content. In other words creating a reading experience that is appropriate for the device. 

Jonny’s second point is that ‘discovery is being properly addressed for the first time.’ 

Previously when apps shared content the links went directly to the mobile web rather than the app. Publishers can now push people into the app, rather than away from it. 

Also content discovery and search on apps has got much easier. “Since last summer content on apps can be indexed and searchable - the final step that makes apps work.” said Jonny. 

There's also the new concept of app streaming - which Google are experimenting with. This gives people a taste of the app without them having download it. 

Jonny’s third point is that there are many ways to drive engagement.

One option is Mixed Mode publishing, which means that publishers can push a constant feed of content to the app. “You can publish content on a daily basis, but still having a linear journey through content.”

Another emerging option is ‘Push notifications.’ As Jonny explained, “these can now be segmented, so you can take your audience and divide them by geography, demography, activity on the device etc.”

Lastly Jonny mentioned opportunities to integrate content and commerce and used the example of Net-a-porter, where you can buy anything that the models are wearing with one click.

Jonny's fourth point is that the cost to develop and run apps is finally sustainable.

“The ability to take risk and innovate is there as costs are so much lower.” 

Jonny's fifth and final point is that distribution channels are proliferating. 

“Facebook, Apple are places for your content, so serve as many channels as possible without it costing you too much." 

“It all boils down to your brands,” Jonny concluded. Whether consumers can relate to you and want to have a relationship with you.”

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