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New Survey Measures Impact of Mobile on Digital Publishing

A new survey of publishers finds that, while Apple apps still dominate the market for mobile devices, apps for Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Nobel’s Nook are growing rapidly this year. The percentage of publishers releasing Kindle apps ballooned from 24 to 67 percent of respondents between 2011 and 2012 and, for Nook apps, from 14 to 57 percent.

Publishers are not just creating one-offs, but an average of 3.4 iPad and iPhone apps, 3 Kindle apps, 2.6 BlackBerry and 2.4 Nook apps. "How Media Companies Are Innovating and Investing in Cross-Platform Opportunities", the 2012 Digital Publishing Survey from the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM), queried 210 of its newspaper, magazine and business publication members in the U.S. and Canada. AAM is the new name for the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

AAM report.png

Native Apps, HTML 5

The member publishers are now universally distributing content to mobile devices, or expect to do so soon. When the organization conducted its first survey three years ago, slightly more than half said they had a mobile presence, but now its 90 percent. The remaining 10 percent say they are currently planning to distribute mobile-optimized content in 2013.

Eighty-five percent of the respondents have released apps for the iPhone, 87 percent for the iPad apps, 67 percent for the Kindle and 57 percent for Nook. Seventy-five percent have apps for other Android devices. Seventy percent are releasing native apps designed for a specific operating system, while 67 percent are generating Web browser-based apps.

Publishers are experimenting with tools for the creation of the content, with over half using two or more different content management and development platforms, and one-quarter using two or more different solutions to keep track of how their content is used. While interest and use of HTML 5 is booming, the survey shows that publishers are just beginning to try that standards-based route. Forty-one percent said they will continue developing native apps, while 31 percent will try HTML 5.

Revenue Streams

More than three-quarters of the respondents said that their mobile revenues needed to flow from both advertising and from purchases or subscriptions. Slightly more than half said that about 9 percent of their ad revenue currently comes from mobile, and a similar percentage is receiving the same proportion from circulation revenue. Nearly half of publishers expect mobile to represent at least 10 percent of ad revenue by the end of 2014.

Circulation revenue is a prominent part of the current business model, with 56 percent of surveyed publishers charging for iPad apps, 42 percent for iPhone apps, 38 percent for Kindle apps and 31 percent for Nook apps. But almost 40 percent of publishers are not charging for content on any platform.

Paying for content have been much-discussed as a strategy for publishers, and the survey found that 48 percent of newspapers currently have a paywall. The most popular kind is a metered paywall, with readers having access to a certain number of articles before they need to pay. Forty percent of respondents use a metered paywall, 17 percent use a hard paywall that requires payment to read any content, and one-third have a combination paywall where only premium content requires payment.

No book, newspaper or magazine publisher moves into mobile without at least some consideration of how the new channel will affect its main business. The report found that less than 15 percent have plans to reduce the frequency of their print publishing, and less than 3 percent think they will only be publishing digitally within the next five years.

 
 
 
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