Tag Archives: TV news apps

The Mobile Apps Revolution—How Brands and TV News Can Extend Engagement

11 Mar
TV news video app for iPad

TV news video app for iPad

     The spark that Guglielmo Marconi flung across the Atlantic in 1901 heralded a new world order.  From that moment forward, information transmission was forever divided between landlines and airwaves.  The past verses the future.  More than a century later the disruptive forces of technological innovation are still real—if Marconi could only see us now.

     The palm-sized computers we now hold in our hands have sparked an applications revolution that is every bit the information game-changer that Marconi ushered in with his wireless telegraph.  Just as radio led to television, computers led to the internet.  Now, mobile devices are leading to them both through applications—or apps. 

Figure 1 - ComScore U.S. Digital Future in Focus

Figure 1 – ComScore U.S. Digital Future in Focus

     The growth and usage of smartphone apps is prolific and real.  ComScore’s latest analysis of internet usages shows 37% of online minutes now come from mobile devices. (Figure 1)  Furthermore, four out of every five mobile minutes are spent on an app.

     Recent mobile research by Nielsen shows the average smartphone user now has 41 apps on their device. (Figure 2)  The dominant app by usage is Facebook followed by Google Maps. 

Figure 2 - Nielsen Smartphone Usage

Figure 2 – Nielsen Smartphone Usage

     Brands that that don’t embrace this new information revolution, including information providers such as news organizations, severely risk becoming marginalized in changing marketplace. 

     Sunil Gupta of the Harvard Business School has just laid out an impressive operational model for brands to build their own apps to extend their brand value on mobile platforms.   He does it by focusing on five categories:

    1. Add Convenience
    2. Offer Unique Value
    3. Provide Social Value
    4. Offer Incentives
    5. Entertain

     In Gupta’s model, he’s put the consumer first.  Far too many mobile news apps I’ve seen put the information consumer somewhere else.   Tap the icon and what comes up are stories that are 24 hours old, limited video, and information cluttered with pop-up ads.  Here’s what Gupta’s model might look like if we apply it in a customer-centric fashion.

1.       Add Convenience.  Here’s where most news apps fail with outdated information.  News junkies come to you for quick and current information, therefore stories and headlines need to be constantly updated.  Post short clips of video from the stories that are appearing, even if they are from a smartphone of a reporter in the field.  ComScore’s research indicates 60% of online searches for weather forecasts are all done on mobile devices, therefore those forecasts should also be constantly current.

 2.       Add Value.  Speaking of weather, one way to add value to a weather or news app is to create an alert system for approaching severe weather.  Another value-added strategy could partner with a local transportation agency to allow the app user to track commute times along a predetermined travel route.  Also, headlines broken down by zip code.

 3.       Provide Social Value.  Here’s where the app developers could build a feature to display the latest Tweets and Facebook postings from the organization.

4.       Offer Incentives.  The app could feature built-in coupons that tie in with a promotion or sponsor.  On-screen coupons to use at live events such as food discounts at ball games would be used as a strategy to build both app users and extend on-air sales.

 5.       Entertain.  This is where the app could offer clips of behind the scenes moments from entertainment programming such as American Idol or upcoming episodes of primetime news lead-ins.

     It’s a lot to think about in an era of shrinking staff resources and budgets.  But just as Marconi once upon a time proved to be a disruptive force in information technologies, mobile devices are proving they are just as disruptive.  The signals TV stations transmit from their towers are no longer the video and information dominant structures they once were.  As digital platforms grow and evolve, information content organizations need to develop multi-platform strategies or risk becoming yesterday’s news.

Going Mobile–Is TV News Missing the m-TV Revolution? [Infograph]

2 Feb

 MTV Flag               Like the flag in the old MTV promo, the way we use, watch, and access video and news is changing.  Welcome to the new m-TV—mobile television. 

                 Several new quantitative research studies suggest there is a revolution occurring before our eyes, one that consumers across two continents are literally holding in the palm of their hands.   Mobile technology and our ability to access information and share it from virtually any location may become either a disruptive force for broadcasters, or an incredible opportunity to extend content and brand value.      

Figure 1 - Pew Research Center

Figure 1 – Pew Research Center

                Mobile devices are exploding in the U.S. marketplace.  Recent data from the Pew Research Center shows half of all U.S. adults now have a mobile connection to the internet through either a tablet or smartphone.  The results are based upon a scientific survey of 9,513 U.S. adults.  Accessing news is an important aspect what these users are consuming.  Fully 64-percent of tablet users and 62-perent of smartphone users say they use their devices to weekly to read and view news. (Figure 1)  In fact, Pew discovered that among tablet owners, news tied with email and games for the most popular activity.  On smartphones, news was second only to email.   

                For people who get news multiple times a day on their mobile devices, Pew also discovered they are more likely to turn to more sources, read more in-depth articles, and watch videos.

                This mobile video news consuming cohort represents virtually the same demographics most coveted by advertisers and television news organizations.  They tend to be young and slightly dominated by men—a many times illusive audience. (Figure 2) 

Figure 2

Figure 2

                This is by far not an American phenomenon.  In fact, the U.S. may be laggards compared to Europe.  Oscar Westlund’s research in the European communications journal Palabra Calve shows how mobile adoption and news consumption is far ahead of the U.S.  Sweden now has the greatest mobile penetration in the world with 101 mobile devices for every 100 people.  Westlund’s research of nearly 3,600 people reveals the early-adopters of these platforms tend to be men between the age of 15-49, and like their American cohort they are also power consumers of mobile news.  Fully 52-percent of these early-adopters use their devices for news.

                The trend is similar in Spain where the next generation of power consumers has already migrated to video news consumption.  Patricia Gonzalez Aldea’s research recently appearing in the International Journal of Iberian Studies revealed that young people haven’t stopped watching TV, they’ve only changed platforms in which they watch.

                Among the youngest group of 14-17 year olds Aldea discovered an important trend.  “They clearly prefer audio-visual media to keep them up to date with news and current affairs,” Aldea concluded.

                The findings in Spain show that the younger generation is demanding that TV content, even news, should be adapted to new platforms. 

TV news video app for iPad

TV news video app for iPad

                This all leads back to whether news organizations are leading the trend or following behind at their own peril.  Every credible newspaper and television news organization long ago established a presence on the web.  Many have also jumped into the world of mobile news apps.  Far fewer have stretched into the offerings of mobile video, and those which have tend to treat it as a necessary evil and not as a growth opportunity.                 

               The mobile trends and changing consumption habits demand that news organizations respond.  Television operations have an inherent advantage in m-TV given their video gathering and packaging expertise and infrastructure.  But they have to treat m-TV as a product launch, complete with a strategic business plan.

                Here’s a start:

  • Identify OPPORTUNITIES based on research:
    • Size of the organization’s digital consumption universe; Size of mobile market; Penetration and strength of 4G digital infrastructure among mobile providers; Number of current video downloads; Potential viewer reach; SWOT of m-TV expansion.
  • Goals:
    • Extend brand value through more mobile video content and views; Create a broader advertising base for increased revenue possibilities.
  • Objectives: Measurable benchmarks
    •  50% more mobile video content in 3 months; 55% more mobile app installations in 3 months; 65% more downloads in 6 months; 80% increase in six months of audience awareness of more mobile content.
  • Strategies:
    • Promote video content on web and apps; Create exclusive mobile content.
  • Tactics:
    • On-air promotion of mobile apps and web video; Drive video postings through Facebook & Twitter; Produce additional content and repurpose existing content for mobile platforms; Reporters post cell phone videos to social media to drive buzz for newscasts; More timely postings of video content.
  • Measurement:
    • Assess whether objectives were met.
  • Contingencies:
    • What if no buy-in from employees?  What if mobile engagement doesn’t increase?  What if brand awareness doesn’t grow?  What if ad click-through rates or ad views don’t increase?

                Traditional over-the-air television and news are not going away anytime soon, but their traditional market is clearly eroding.   Both Pew and the quantitative research conducted in Europe of mobile device usage makes it clear that audiences are rapidly changing the ways and platforms in which they access traditional content.  How content providers, especially news organizations respond may very well determine who survives and who profits.

                As Oscar Westlund concludes, “Mobiles are the future.  It’s not a question of whether it will be so, but when.”

Pew Research Center Infograph

Pew Research Center Infograph

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