Mobile traffic, audio dramas for smart speakers, free push alerts and more

This is the September 2017 edition of the mobile lab newsletter from the NJ Mobile News Lab

Joe Amditis
Sep 14, 2017 · 10 min read

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 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.

Click here to read the full story.

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.

Click here to read the full story.

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.

Click here to read the full story.

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.

Click here to read the full report.

Chart of the month:

Upcoming trainings & events:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Virtual and augmented reality

Revenue and sustainability

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Social tools and platforms

Research and reports

Design and development

Commentary and more

Joe Amditis is the associate director of the Center for Cooperative Media. Contact him at

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

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