A NOTE TO OUR READERS: This is the ninth edition of this monthly Mobile Lab newsletter, and I’ve really enjoyed writing it each month. My goal is to collect and distribute valuable information about the changing mobile news landscape — but I want to make sure that what I put in this newsletter is indeed valuable.
With that in mind, I’d love to hear what you think. What’s missing? What would you like to see more of or less of? How can I better help you stay informed about the changing landscape for mobile news and how it impacts you? Send an email with your comments, criticisms, and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your feedback is important.
– Joe Amditis
Smartphones are behind all the growth in web traffic
Google and Facebook are taking most of the ad revenue generated from mobile web traffic. At the same time, people are starting to neglect apps in favor of mobile websites. Rani Molla of Recode cites a new study from Adobe Analytics that shows Americans are using apps on smartphones about 22 percent less than they did last year, and those numbers more than double when it comes to tablets. The big apps like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are still plenty popular, but the bulk of mobile traffic is shifting back to the mobile web. As it turns out, news websites were the biggest beneficiaries of this latest shift.
BBC made an audio drama for Amazon Echo and Google Home
We’ve covered the various ways news organizations have been using smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Voice in previous editions of this newsletter. Most publishers have been using the emerging audio devices to distribute headline news and other forms of on-demand audio content. But Lucinda Southern of DigiDay says the BBC’s research and development lab is trying to bring something different and more interactive to the platform: a choose-your-own-adventure-style audio drama called “The Inspection Chamber.” The story runs about 20 minutes and, while the general narrative remains the same, there are several different ways for the listener to solve the riddle.
OneSignal offers simple (and free) push notifications for digital publishers
There aren’t many options when it comes to subscriber management or analytics, but if you’re looking for a quick, easy and simple way to create push notifications for your digital news outlet, OneSignal is a great place to start. We’ve been experimenting with the OneSignal WordPress plugin at the Center for Cooperative Media for a few months, and one of the best aspects of the tool so far has been its simplicity and ease-of-use.
The biggest downsides have been the general lack of subscriber management tools and audience customization options. The tool is free to use — as long as you’re willing to share some data with large brands and advertisers — which makes up for some of what it lacks in functionality and customization. OneSignal recently secured $7 million in Series A funding to continue to develop its push notification tools, which you can read more about at the link below.
Survey: Journalists’ most urgent training needs are mobile, data and video
A new survey from the Reynolds Journalism Institute found that 75 percent of respondents urgently want to learn mobile, data and video journalism skills. Linda Austin published the results of her study late last month, in which respondents also said they would be willing to try to learning those skills in bite-sized lessons on their mobile phones. Among the most sought-after skills and training topics were creating better stories for mobile audiences and learning how to edit video using a smartphone.
Chart of the month:
Upcoming trainings & events:
HOW SMARTER FACEBOOK ADS CAN DRIVE ROI
You know that proving ROI from social can be a pain. That’s why the clear tracking you get with paid social is such a relief — along with its improved reach and targeting options. But paid social only relieves that pain if you’re spending your ad dollars effectively. This 60-minute webinar will run on Sept. 21 at 2pm. More info.
MOBILE MEDIA: PRODUCING VISUAL STORIES WITH YOUR IPHONE
This two-day certificate workshop provides all skills necessary for shooting quality video on your iPhone, including how to capture key moments from events, product launches, conferences and interviews to publishing on social networks or your website. Tuition for this workshop is $865 and it runs on September 27–28 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. More info.
BUILDING A 2.0: MAKING BIG CHANGES WITHOUT CAUSING BIG WAVES
In the case study, learn why TodayTix decided to do a redesign, how the product team orchestrated the massive project, and how they pulled it off without upsetting the company’s millions of customers. TodayTix developed and launched a human-centered redesign that was met with a positive reception by users and increased sales and conversions. This live event will be held on Oct. 4 starting at 2 p.m. ET and costs $99. More info.
INSTASNAP: REPORTING LIVE VIDEO 10 SECONDS AT A TIME
This one-hour webinar will dissect the rapidly-changing ways millennials consume news and information through scrolling, snapping and, of course, selfies. Don’t think a selfie can be news? Think again! This webinar will run on Oct. 20 starting at 2 p.m. More info.
BUILD A BOT: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND BOTS FOR NEWS
Come make a Facebook Messenger bot with John Keefe, bot developer and app product manager at Quartz. Class meets Wednesdays, Oct. 25 and Nov. 1 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The cost for this workshop is $249. $199. More info.
Bots, AI, and messaging apps
- The Washington Post’s robot reporter has published 850 articles in the past year by Lucia Moses
- BBC has made a drama for Amazon Echo and Google Home by Lucinda Southern
- Why The Amazon Echo Show Won’t Bring Up Charlottesville (Or Bad News In General) by Jared Newman
- Honolulu Civil Beat wants to use its bot to deepen ties with readers (and find some new stories, too) by Ricardo Bilton
- As push notifications pile up, publishers look to get more targeted by Max Willens
- BBC is making interactive radio plays for Alexa and Google Home by Chaim Gartenberg
- A Simple Design Flaw Makes It Astoundingly Easy To Hack Siri And Alexa by Mark Wilson
- News startup Purple is now a service that lets creators charge people to text with them by Shan Wang
- Amazon Alexa now responds to certain questions with skills that can help you when Alexa can’t by Sarah Perez
- The Washington Post leverages automated storytelling to cover high school football from the WashPost PR Blog
- With its first Facebook Messenger bot, ProPublica is collecting reader stories about hate speech by Ricardo Bilton
- Quartz created a bot that can break news — and wants to help other news orgs develop their own by Ricardo Bilton
- This Influencer Marketing Shop Created Fake Accounts to Prove That the Industry Is Full of Ad Fraud by Evan Asano
- What makes a great chatbot? Laser focus on customers by Clint Boulton
- Axel Springer now has 13 million users for its Upday news app by Lucinda Souther
Virtual and augmented reality
- Augmented Reality: Where are we now, and what does it mean for marketers? by Brian Smith
- Finally: An augmented reality app that injects the Internet into real life by Peter Rubin
- Project Axon is a VR game that shows how fake news spreads by Stephanie Chan
Revenue and sustainability
- Branded Content Is King on Facebook. Here’s John Cena and The Data To Prove It. by Gabriele Boland
- Why Google’s AdSense Native ads are the tipping point for native advertising by Lisa Lacy
- USA Today’s Facebook-like mobile site increased time spent per article by 75 percent by Ross Benes
- Ev Williams on Medium’s Spotify-ish future, why publishers left, and why he changed his mind about ads by Laura Hazard Owen
- Behind the pivot-to-video: What to learn from millennial influencers? by Emilie Kodjo
- A New Marketing Royalty: Why Digital Influencers Are on the Rise by Aprajita Jain
- Stick Google Plus Buttons On Your Pages, Or Your Search Traffic Suffersby Kashmir Hill
- Google Tests Subscription Tool for Publishers by Mark Bergen
- Can Engaged Time Metrics Help Fix Mobile Ads? by Brent Merritt
- How 4 of the priciest content subscriptions stack up by Max Willens
- Business media startup Cheddar adds radio to its growing TV operationby Jason Abbruzzese
- Time Inc shifts toward video as eyeballs move online by Sheila Dang
Innovation and entrepreneurship
- Apple News is experimenting with ‘featured video’ section by Max Willens
- Christopher Guess presents Push from RJI Online
- Covering Climate Change, with Urgency and Creativity by Michael Blanding
- Rethinking audio editing on mobile by Michael Mignano
- Moving The New York Times Games Platform to Google App Engine by JP Robinson
- OneSignal raises $7M for its free push notification tools by Anthony Ha
- Digital Transformations Are Forcing Brands Like Keds and Pernod Ricard to ‘Change or Die’ by Lauren Johnson
- Which is the bigger morning news podcast, The Daily or NPR’s Up First? And does it matter? by Nicholas Quah
- How Interactive Timelines Empowered Students, Flipped the Communications Classroom by Don Diefenbach
Social tools and platforms
- Try This: The most useful apps, tools and sites we used during Hurricane Irma by Ren Laforme
- Facebook Is Willing to Spend Big in Video Push by Deepa Seetharaman
- Snapchat inks Discover deal with student newspapers by Benjamin Mullen
- The Schools of Journalism: Digital Optimists vs. Digital Pessimists by David Cohn
- How YouTube perfected the feed by Casey Newton
- How Will Changes in Google AMP Results Affect Your Newsroom? by Chelsey Heath
- Follow major platform developments with our interactive timeline by Nushin Rashidian
- Facebook is rolling out a Trending News section on mobile, now with its own link by Sarah Perez
- Here’s why 4 publishers jumped onto Facebook Watch by Benjamin Mullen
- Facebook working on a video chat device in hardware push by AdAge
- How Instagram Stories became the growth engine for Teen Vogue’s Woke Letter by Max Willens
- Facebook will soon purge video clickbait from the News Feed by Thuy Ong
Research and reports
- 4 Consumer Trends That Are Revolutionizing Content Consumption by Giselle Abromovich
- Smartphones are driving all growth in web traffic by Rani Molla
- Survey: Journalists’ most urgent training needs are mobile, data and video by Linda Austin
- Axios Media Trends for August and September by Sara Fischer
- People are watching a lot less TV news (especially local TV) as they get more news online by Laura Hazard Owen
- Tagging fake news on Facebook doesn’t work, study says by Jason Schwartz
Design and development
- How Mobile App Prototyping Works from Proto.io
- A new YouTube look that works for you from YouTube Creator Blog
- The pivot to slow page loads: Latency is a major headache for video-crazy publishers by Ross Benes
- Top 10 Mobile App UI of August 2017 from Proto.io
- VIDEO: Tips for Icon Usability by Aurora Harley
- Flat UI Elements Attract Less Attention and Cause Uncertainty by Kaye Meyer
- The Why and How of Google AMP at Condé Nast by Oscar Perez
- How live video is evolving, in 4 charts by Lucinda Southern
- How Mobile Website Design Affects Your Traffic from Proto.io
- Facebook and Instagram get redesigns for readability by Josh Constine
- Will smartwatches ever become the general-purpose wearables we were told they’d be? by Bob O’Donnell
- NZZ Companion: How we successfully developed a personalised news application by Rouven Leuener
Commentary and more
- Make Mark Zuckerberg testify by Sam Biddle
- Politico editor: We discard ‘dozens’ of potential hires over toxic Twitter feeds by Erik Wemple
- The Dilemma Of Fair Use And Expressive Machine Learning: An Interview With Ben Sobel by Elise De Geyter
- Facebook’s self-policing needs an update from the Financial Times
- What “Pivoting to Video” Really Means by Bryan Curtis
- Try This: The videos you shoot with your phone make people dizzy. Here’s how to fix that. by Ren Laforme
- Yes, Google Uses Its Power to Quash Ideas It Doesn’t Like — I Know Because It Happened to Me [Updated] by Kashmir Hill
- A Serf on Google’s Farm by Josh Marshall
- Monitoring social media for misinformation, part two by Nic Dias (click here for part one)
- Is “platform” the right metaphor for the technology companies that dominate digital media? by Tarleton Gillespie
- Judge sides with YouTubers Ethan and Hila Klein in copyright lawsuit by Anthony Ha
- Mic is laying off staff as it prepares for a pivot to video by Maxwell Tani
- 3 free Android apps to record phone calls made with your smartphone by Caroline Scott
- There’s a long list of old-fashioned parallels to today’s fake news. Here’s one that’s actually helpful by Laura Hazard Owen
Joe Amditis is the associate director of the Center for Cooperative Media. Contact him at email@example.com.
About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. The Center is supported with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Democracy Fund. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. For more information, visit CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.
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