May 23, 2016 | Lucy Penn
During the last session of the PageSuite Innovation Conference on 12th May, our SVP of Business Development, Ben Edwards, hosted a panel discussion with executives from two of the UK’s major publishers.
Sam Miller, Senior Project Manager at DC Thomson and Simon Fry, Mobile & Tablet Product Manager at The Independent & Evening Standard took to the panel to provide their views on key industry topics. Both of our panellists provided some interesting insights into their worlds and here is what we found out …
Question 1) How much of your audience currently access content via a mobile device?
Sam stated that DC Thomson is a print-first company and has been slower to adopt digital, so therefore their audience has followed suit. DC Thomson is now looking to help push their brands through the upgrade of all Digital Edition titles, so perhaps this will encourage an increase in their digital readership. However, one of DC Thomson’s titles, the Aberdeen Press and Journal, is now digital-first. They see more consumption from mobile across their newspapers compared to their magazines.
With the recent closure of The Independent’s print edition, Simon explained that his team are now curating content for one edition per day across desktop (website) and mobile devices (app). When asked by a member of the audience what The Independent’s offices are like since the closure of the print edition, Simon jokingly replied “Well… there’s a lot less paper!” Simon also explained that almost 75% of The Independent’s UK audience is from mobile – both web and apps. This is a significant increase over the past 12 months; obviously the closure of the print edition had an impact on this. He also mentioned that over 60% of the Evening Standards audience comes from mobile.
Question 2) What are the differences in behaviour between mobile web users and desktop?
Simon revealed that users of the Evening Standard and Independent free apps are highly engaged and tend to view up to 10 articles per visit. This type of user is already committed as they have downloaded the app. The most engaged audience group though are users of the Independent’s Daily Edition app, who will consume over 40 pages per day. For a regular web user, the average number of article views is 2 per visit. Facebook is the main source of traffic for web users, along with other social sources.
Sam divulged that users spend a lot more time viewing magazines via their digital edition, not their website in some cases as this can vary from brand to brand and across mature and kids titles. They see lots of Facebook traffic for their regional newspapers, with mobile being a major source of traffic.
Question 3) Why are apps an important part of your product suite?
On the web, The Independent is just one of many news sources, whereas app users are naturally more engaged with the brand. Although the app audience is considerably smaller than the website audience, they are a loyal audience who consider us to be their preferred source of news. As such they are extremely valuable. In terms of distributed content, Facebook’s Instant Articles have been extremely successful in driving traffic. Google’s AMP are still in their early phases but are seeing satisfactory results. So, apps are fundamental for user engagement.
For DC Thomson, it is important to have an app presence. They launched their range of apps in 2012/2013 and are still seeing growth of tablet usage, despite some people stating tablet readerships are plateauing. Apps are therefore a contributor to growth for DC Thomson particularly in newspapers.
Question 5) What are you working on next?
Simon disclosed that his team are working to rebuild the free Evening Standard app on smartphones with PageSuite. They want to make it quicker for users to get content. They will be utilising the same advertising strategy, so will still be using agencies and an in-house ad sales team.
DC Thomson are currently looking to organise their data to improve the user interface across subscriptions and renewals by integrating with PageSuite to create the 360 journey for customers. They want to work on making more use of their data to gain information on their users’ subscriptions. Sam commented that they also want to focus on using data to create personalised messaging for users and by upgrading to infinity and including notifications and more sophisticated way of working than the older digital edition platforms this should help indeed. DC Thomson are also looking at implementing print and digital bundles and aiming to build upon their brand as a whole.
Our audience found the panel discussion extremely engaging and it was great to hear Sam and Simon’s perspectives on audience behaviour and app performance!