Digital Publishing's Future is Mobile
I was asked recently to expand on an argument that publishers should be taking mobile more serious than perhaps other content strategies. I've never felt stronger in my 10-plus years in e-media than I do about the future of delivering content and advertising to mobile devices.
As we continue to re-launch our Web sites, my discussions with more than a half-dozen mobile vendors have been refreshing and a tremendous learning process. We can't test or implement a mobile strategy quicker, however, rushing into anything could result in falling flat on our face.
I don't want to make the same mistakes I see regularly when visiting the mobile sites of some of my favorite content providers; for instance, links that don't go to the actual story you clicked on or advertisers that are offered nothing more than a tiny ad unit on a mobile site's landing page.
Depending on the report you read and believe, although ad budgets are getting slashed mobile advertising is expected to grow exponentially. One recent study has mobile ad spends going from $229 million to over $400 million in 2011, while another report suggests it could reach $10 billion as soon as next year. I should point out that I believe there is huge potential in display, location-based (geographic) and Common Short Code (CSC) mobile advertising.
Google, which is investing heavily in mobile with Android and countless other initiatives, believes that mobile will be key to the growth of search, video and social media on the Web, not thin, plastic, flexible transistors with polymer LEDs (aka "e-paper") or even the latest Kindle or an e-book device from Amazon or another company trying to be the digital king.
Sure, some great new technology constantly emerges, but these products will need to play serious catch-up to surpass the 20 million U.S. consumers who rely on a mobile browser for their information. Plus, with an economy struggling to come out of a recession, many people will take advantage of a drop in smart phone costs before buying new products with higher price tags.
It's never too early to start thinking about next year's Publishing Business Conference & Expo, one of the remaining face-to-face events for magazine publishers. I'm hoping to convince the gang at Publishing Executive to showcase a mobile publishing pavilion in March. I'm sure it will be a hit with both vendors and attendees.