Why mobile matters


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Presentation by Amy Gahran to the Knight Digital Media Center's Mobile Symposium, held April 2011 at the journalism schools of the Univ. of Nebraska (Lincoln) and the Univ. of Montana (Missoula).

Audience: editors, managers, and staff of news organizations from around each state, and faculty from the communications schools (journalism and advertising) at both universities.

Published in: News & Politics
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  • The story of the mobile landscape featuring\n- Lots of lightbulbs\n- A couple of cats\n- 2 800-lb gorillas\n- And Captain Jean-Luc Picard!\n- Oh, and a horse...\n
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  • WAIT!\n\nNone of those goals mentioned “mobile”!!!\n
  • Sorry, I lied\n\nAt its heart, this workshop isn't really about mobile technology, per se\n\nThis workshop is really about:\n- being adaptable, flexible, creative, and forward-looking.\n- not taking your business, professions, or especially your communities for granted.\n- unlearning some ideas about how journalists, journalism, and news organizations are supposed to work\n- making sure communities and individuals continue to get the news and information they need.\n
  • But one thing we're NOT unlearning are cores value of journalism\n\nWe're not talking about throwing out all the practices you've learned, and the products you offer\n\nWe're talking about layering popular new technology and infrastructure onto the foundation that news orgs and journos have already built.\n\nThe future always builds on the past.\n\nBut let’s start with the present...\n\n
  • ...And people are turning to their mobile devices for news, even local news\n
  • News is in the top 3 -- even above sports and traffic.\n
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  • So let’s back out to look at the big picture of mobile...\n
  • Tablets may eventually prove to be a boon for news audiences, and news orgs\n\nGoogle’s admob service -- recent survey\n\nNews is one of the most popular uses\n- even ahead of social media!\n\nBUT: Tablet penetration still low.\n\nIf you’re starting today, you need to serve the potential market that already exists\n- THEN grow into the future\n
  • Mobile is such a huge deal because it’s disruptive. \n- Leapfrogging potential, like India & Africa\n- Not just personal infrastructure, but institutional: medicine, education, business, government services, etc.\n\nWhy a data-enabled mobile device is like a light bulb\n\nAt Home, Bill Bryson: How the electric light bulb overturned life\n- Safer, easier to do things at night or inside without burning down the house\n- Downside: ridiculous overload.\n\nElectric generators & utilities came into being because people wanted their light bulbs\n- But look at everything else we’re doing with electricity now. It changed the world.\n- In US, even poor people usually have electricity.\n\n
  • Proliferation of wireless broadband could change the character of local communities and economies as much as electrification did.\n\nI’m here speaking to you because I think you’re where a lot of the opportunity lies\n\n
  • In times of disruption, you can’t take anything for granted.\n\nRoles are in flux, and good ideas/insight come from all kinds of places. Everyone must pitch in and be aware.\n\nLeaders needs to support and reward this awareness.\n\nIMHO: Make that a key criteria in who you hire, retain, and promote.\n\nIf Matt Waite is here, ask him about how he developed this mindset, and how it yielded politifact\n
  • Local mobile advertising/marketing is a huge potential market\n\nNews orgs are uniquely poised to capitalize on that.\n\nKim will cover that.\n\nMain point for now: This is happening RIGHT NOW, and will unfold over next few years.\n\nDon’t let Google take over this mobile market, too. Don’t let this be Craigslist all over again. Local news orgs can build relationships better than Google.\n\nAnd mobile is about relationships...\n
  • People typically have strong emotions about cell phones.\n\nIt’s a relationship tool, not just a device\n\nIf you give them what they want and don’t bug them or try to milk them, they’ll love your mobile service\n\nIf you screw it up, they’ll really hate you.\n\n
  • Mobile media currently is mainly a complement to, not a replacement for, traditional news storytelling.\n\nEven a really cool, high-tech lightbulb is no replacement for the sun.\n\n...And even “retro” technologies often seem to find a lasting niche...\n
  • Speaking of technology, what exactly IS a smartphone?\n\nGo over criteria\n\nThere’s always something new coming up - almost daily!\n\nSmartphone is a mushy concept, lines are blurring...\n
  • Feature phones are the 800-lb gorilla -- and that’s likely to remain the case for at least a couple of years\n\nIf you wanted to get started with mobile NOW, top priority should be to give feature phones a good baseline experience.\n\nThat’s how you build brand loyalty. \n\nEasy to shine on this front -- most news orgs are really bad at this.\n\nWhen I mention feature phones in a lot of tech and media circles...\n
  • this is the reaction I often get.\n
  • Or this...\n
  • Or this.\n\nBecause feature phones aren’t “cool”\n\nYou many not be able to get a comp sci dept to help you with feature phone projects, but...\n
  • ...I bet your advertising, PR, marketing, and business students will want to help.\n\nAnd local businesses would love to have students helping them with mobile marketing/advertising that includes feature phones.\n\nThe point is: Don’t wait to go mobile. Work with what you’ve got right now.\n\nAnd if you’re doing text messaging or e-mail programs, it’s not expensive and you don’t need special “gear”\n
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  • Mostly ignores feature phone traffic\n\nPercentMobile.com is a partial solution to capture traffic\n- But doesn’t integrate with your regular site stats.\n
  • No. Too expensive, inflexible, complicated for many people.\n\nSmartphones are getting cheaper, feature phones are getting smarter\n\nThe low end of mobile technology will probably always be where most of your potential market is.\n
  • Mobile preferences are REALLY local\n\nPeople get influenced on devices, apps, channels by the people they know\n\nCarriers offer different phones, plans in different markets -- influences choices\n\nRemember that survey I sent you? Your market research could be similar!\n- But do at least a portion of it in person, in the field\n- It helps to see how people use their phones. They will show you!\n\nKeep doing surveys over time\n\nGo out in the field to see how people use their phones\n
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  • Tools like ScribbleLive and Storify can help you create a curated and fairly mobile-friendly experience, for special event or ongoing topics\n\nYou don’t have to offer just one mobile experience.\n
  • \nMobile users want to DO stufF!!!\n Kind of like cats\n Short attention bursts\n Quick actions: Sharing/forwarding, voting, quizzes, request more info, search database, etc.\n Crowdsourcing projects: Great way to engage communities. Ushahidi, SwiftRiver, OpenSignalMaps, RootMetrics\n
  • The best use for apps is special-purpose.\n\nIf you have a database that people would like to search, make THAT and app -- not your whole site\n\nCan also use for special-purpose content, like festival guides or emergency services\n\nMobile web streamlines development costs, cheaper than native apps\n
  • Mobile isn’t just about pushing out content or alerts\n\nYou can engage communities to contribute info\n\nUshahidi, Swiftriver are useful platforms -- and not just for disasters!\n
  • With everything about mobile in the US, there is an 800-lb gorilla: Wireless carriers\n\nIncreasing industry consolidation\n\nThey don’t like transparency\n\nThey don’t like municipal WiMax\n\nFree pass on net neutrality\n\nThey pretty much own their regulators\n\nThey don’t like consumers to have too much freedom to switch\n\nThey control how their networks get used\n\nNot necessarily nefarious, but powerful and they have their own interests\n\nThey do a lot of good work too. The more I learn about wireless tech, the more I’m amazed it works at all.\n\nGotta keep an eye on them, encourage them to build networks that will serve your regions well.\n
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  • \nOpenSignalMaps & Rootmetrics: apps so people can map wireless networks\n\nSpearhead an effort to map out quality of your area’s wireless access\n\nIncreases awareness of growing importance of wireless broadband for economic development, personal opportunity, service delivery\n\nAlternative to iffy network maps supplied by carriers\n
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  • Why mobile matters

    1. 1. Why Mobile Matters What News Professionals Need to Know Amy Gahran, April 2011 Knight Digital Media Center Mobile Symposium
    2. 2. Resources for this talk: KnightDigitalMediaCenter.org/kdmcmobile Apr. 12 post by Amy Gahranamy@gahran.com / @agahran / Contentious.com
    3. 3. Why go mobile? 3 Goals1. To be available, engaging and useful to the communities you serve, via the channels they prefer, in ways that work under variable conditions.2. To do quality reporting from anywhere, anytime -- in a timely, flexible, and cost-effective way.3. To achieve first two goals in ways that support/grow a revenue- producing news business model and strengthen communities.
    4. 4. Pew: Half of all US adults getsome local mobile news/info Pew Internet & American Life Project, March 2011 How Mobile Devices are Changing Community Information Environments
    5. 5. What kind of local news/info arepeople getting on mobile devices? Pew Internet & American Life Project, March 2011 How Mobile Devices are Changing Community Information Environments
    6. 6. Young people: Especially likely toget local mobile news /info✤ 70% of Americans age 18-29 get some kind of local mobile news/info✤ 47% specifically get local mobile news (distinct from weather, sports, restaurant listings, etc.)✤ That makes mobile a good way to build your future news audience.✤ Tomorrow’s market has to come from somewhere. Pew Internet & American Life Project, March 2011 How Mobile Devices are Changing Community Information Environments
    7. 7. Mobile for community-building “Those who use their cellphones or tablet computers to get local news are more enthusiastic... about their communities and the role they play there.” “More than a third of mobile local information consumers say they and others like them can have a big impact on their community. That compares with 27% of those who do not connect to their communities on their mobile devices who feel that level of personal efficacy.” Pew Internet & American Life Project, March 2011 How Mobile Devices are Changing Community Information Environments
    8. 8. The US mobile big picture✤ Currently 234 million Americans 13 & over use mobile devices* -- 76% of total US population (all ages)✤ 3G technology has been deployed to areas covering more than 92% of the US population**✤ 4G networks are only just starting to get rolled out, and so far few 4G handsets are available.✤ More than 89% of the handsets operating on US wireless carrier networks are capable of browsing the web**✤ Less than 30% of US handsets currently in use are smartphones*✤ Americans spend 7.2% of mobile phone time following news & current events*** *ComScore February 2011 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share **CTIA 50 wireless quick facts, October 2010 ***Nielsen State of the Media 2010, January 2011
    9. 9. Google Admob Tablet Survey March 2011
    10. 10. Disruptive Technology: Pros & Cons
    11. 11. Rural won’t be what it used to be.Rural news orgs and nearby j-schools can help lead that change.
    12. 12. NEEDED:Product Development Mindset EVERYONE in the news businessshould make it their business to think about the business. GETPASSIONATE!
    13. 13. Mobile advertising market boomingNew Gartner research:✤ 2011, US mobile advertising market will grow to $707 million ✤ Mostly search & map-related: 45% ✤ About 25% each: Mobile web display ads, in-app advertising✤ By 2015, that’ll grow to a $5.8 billion market (equivalent to about 20% of all US online ad spending) ✤ % Mobile web and in-app display ads will catch up more with search/map ads. Gartner Mobile Advertising, Worldwide, 2008-2015 March 2011
    14. 14. People take their cell phonesVERY personally
    15. 15. Mobile is not a replacement for traditional news storytelling
    16. 16. What’s a smartphone?✤ Operating system that will support “native” applications (apps)✤ Full-featured web browser*✤ At least 3G access (soon, 4G) * Candybar BlackBerries prove that not all smartphones have touchscreens or nice web browsers.
    17. 17. What’s a “feature phone”?✤ Over 70% of current US mobile market*✤ Limited operating system -- but often can run simple Java apps -- which aren’t as nice as native, but still work.✤ Over 89% are web-enabled**✤ Usually crappy web browser, but they’re getting better***✤ May not have 3G access.✤ May have a touchscreen✤ More affordable, flexible, simpler. *ComScore Feb 2011 **CTIA ***KDMC
    18. 18. Feature phones????
    19. 19. Strategy: Embrace the fullspectrum of mobile technology✤ Make your mobile web site the core of your mobile strategy.✤ Be inclusive: from cheap flip phones with crappy browsers to iPads✤ Feature phones are biggest part of market by far. Serve them first as baseline.✤ SMS works on all feature phones. E-mail & web work on most.✤ Play with lower-tech mobile as much as high-end✤ Native apps for smartphones & tablets: Do them only AFTER you cover the low-tech bases.
    20. 20. Mobile Metrics are... um...challenging...
    21. 21. But won’teveryone havea smartphone by next Tuesday?
    22. 22. Do your own local mobilemarket research
    23. 23. Social media is increasingly mobile✤ Make sure your mobile web site plays nice across a range of feature and smartphone browsers, so inbound links work.✤ Add like & share links/features to your mobile web pages✤ Promote your content via social media.✤ READ: KCNN guide: “Likes & Tweets”
    24. 24. Think beyond shovelware✤ It’s 1997 all over again!✤ Not compelling, engaging or very useful✤ It’s better than nothing -- but not by much
    25. 25. Curation is better than shovelware
    26. 26. Got a database?Make an app!✤ Apps can be special-purpose✤ This example: mobile web apps✤ From apps.USA.gov✤ Very handy✤ Works on feature phone browser
    27. 27. Crowdsourcing for engagement Manitoba Floods crowdmap powered by Ushahidi
    29. 29. Wireless broadband as infrastructure✤ Great story for rural areas: Most in need of 4G, but probably last to get it✤ Obama admin: National Wireless Initiative announced Jan. 2011. Would extend 4G networks to cover 98% of population✤ Opportunity or carrier pork? Both! (More to write about)✤ Robust, ubiquitous 4G networks can deliver core services: education, health, business, more.✤ Watch out for network congestion!✤ Use crowdsourcing tools to engage community on this issue, increase awareness.✤ Network availability does not mean everyone can afford devices/access
    30. 30. Crowdmap local wireless service
    31. 31. Wetware update: Change yourmindset!✤ Start using mobile tools daily. Try new things as they arise.✤ Think like a product developer✤ Learn from mobile marketers, developers, activists, service providers The most important piece of mobile✤ Do your own market research computing and communication power you’ll ever have.✤ Experiment!
    32. 32. Next-generation mobile tech?.... Hmmmmmm......
    33. 33. Psyched? Go for it!!!!
    34. 34. Resources for this talk: KnightDigitalMediaCenter.org/kdmcmobile Apr. 12 post by Amy Gahranamy@gahran.com / @agahran / Contentious.com