As we ring in the New Year, we’ll also be ringing in a new opportunity for sophistication in mobile. Working with a number of media companies to build out their mobile business - what are things that media executives should be on the look out for in 2014? Below are our predictions.
Prediction 1: The Good, Bad and Ugly in Push Notification
We will be ushering in a new era for mobile re-engagements in the New Year. Push notifications offer mobile publishers a great opportunity to reconnect to consumers that have downloaded their app but have failed to return. In fact, a recent study found that push notifications drive huge reengagement rates. The study found that up to seventy percent of the user base opened an app after a single push. While we expect push notifications to continue to increase next year, the growth will likely have some growing pains and some publishers will navigate the waters well and others will burn bridges with their readers. Push notifications can be tricky, if a publisher overuses them, consumers will ignore them or simply turn them off. To be effective in push, publishers must curate in the user’s interest - this takes both editorial and marketing chops, and though sales may want to intercede - publishers should proceed with caution, lest they blacklist themselves on the one screen that users have with them 24/7.
Prediction 2: The New Era of Interactive Engagement for Publishers
In 2014, we’ll also see more publishers adding interactive features to their mobile offerings. Publishers will start moving beyond perfecting the view/read content function and more into the play, score, share, comment interactive capabilities. We’ll especially see a focus on games, interactive features and exclusive recurring content. This approach will help give a consumer a reason to reopen the app and keep coming back for more. Interactive content allows publishers to connect with readers instantly and to keep them engaged for longer periods of time, which helps increase return visits. Releasing a new level on a game or releasing the latest video in a series of videos is something that will bring users back organically. They will want to improve their score, check out a new level, or view a new video, and this content is appealing at any time of day.
Prediction 3: Publishers Need to Go All In with a Full Spectrum Mobile Channel
As mobile continues to mature next year, publishers will discover that they need to go all in for mobile. It is not enough to just have an Android app or an iOS app or to say we only do optimized mobile web. Publishers need to offer mobile to consumers on every device and in every format so that readers can engage when and where they please. Whether the reader is a passerby that tends to go the mobile website or a more loyal reader that has pre-downloaded the app, publishers need to secure the full mobile footprint. It is too expensive to acquire users through marketing and pay for download models to ignore current readership that are already looking for the publisher’s content. People today are digital omnivores, and publishers need to feed their appetites across the varying mobile outlets and not leave any readers on the table. Not only do publishers need to do it all, they are also expected to deliver the same quality and look across the board.
Prediction 4: Programmatic Goes Premium - Really.
Another big shift that we will see next year is that programmatic will turn premium. Programmatic offers both advertisers and publishers an alternative to place targeted ads based on machine-sold exchanges, rather than needing to going through direct or hand-sold sales teams, that traditionally sell in bulk. Thanks to the evolution in programmatic advertising offering better and better ad units, marketers are now quite willing to place budgets to go to these machine-sold exchanges. Time Warner, one of the most vocal anti-programmatic (or to use 2008 lingo - selling remnant inventory) turned a corner late this year and announced they have seen enough traction in programmatic with large marketers that they have retracted their policy. The company is building its own internal groups and charging ahead on programmatic as other large publishers like News Corp and Viacom have been doing for the past year. With more premium inventory in market, we are going to see a real shift in 2014 where we now have premium inventory supply meeting the premium priced demand. Smart publishers will choose programmatic networks that offer premium ad units because they deliver high-quality targeted ad experiences from top-notch advertisers that will bolster deals coming in through their direct sales force. Consumers expect better experiences from brands than mobile spray and pray banner ads can deliver, and premium programmatic allows publishers to deliver higher quality ad experiences at scale.
Prediction 5: Mobile Strategy Moves Above the Fray of Native vs. HTML5
In the New Year, the industry will also move beyond the HTML5 versus native debate. While this topic has had its place, there are bigger and more important things for publishers to spend time discussing like actual mobile user engagement, ROI on monetization efforts and ensuring that they don’t erode their user base. The native and HTML5 is a coders debate, and publishers don’t need to win or decide which side to make a bet, they need to step above it and use a platform that supports both.