Smartphone apps can provide new revenue

November 1, 2016

By Eric Aronson
Director of Marketing | Bar-Z Mobile Development

Few strategies offer the path to potential future profits for today’s challenged newspapers like mobile: It’s where the eyeballs are. It’s ‘all new real estate.’ If done right, it’s low cost and low risk.

There’s no doubting the power of the app. The stats are ubiquitous—we’re addicted to our smartphones, and apps are where we spend our time. In fact, ComScore reports that smartphone apps alone now account for nearly half of all digital media time and 3 minutes out of every 4 minutes on mobile in total. And demographics don’t get in the way: smartphone app usage time is increasing among every age group.

For newspaper publishers, apps represent not only new real estate, but a whole new category of real estate. Those publishers paving the way have found that success lies in creatively combining the myriad tools and features available in a robust mobile solution with their existing content, connections and partnerships.

Many publishers’ apps are becoming the “go-to” apps for their communities and adding significant value to their advertisers. Not only are they using their content in new and unique ways, but they’re sourcing content from their users and engaging with readers like never before. Apps are giving community newspapers the ability to engage with new audiences like nothing else could.

Some papers are using “app within an app” content partnerships with event promoters and “town fathers” to add useful and interesting content. These partnerships often offer additional marketing opportunities, making a winning combination for the publisher, the advertiser and the end user.

Apps offer publishers multiple new ways to monetize. Having a “mobile” property adds a whole new dimension to their offering. From native advertising to sponsored content to master sponsorships and co-branding, with a strategically built app they can revise their rate card to a much more extensive one that makes sense to advertisers, encourages the purchase of multiple “products” and demonstrates real value.

It’s understandable that many publishers are trepidatious. There’s been no shortage of prognosticators calling for newspapers to reposition themselves as multi-platform mediums and plenty of vendors along the way that were ready with the “solution.” Some papers have been burned. A measured approach and alignment with a sure-footed app developer partner can be make or break.

Getting an app built and published today can be incredibly fast and cheap. You can even do it yourself. However, for newspapers, the needs are highly specialized. Seek out a developer partner with experience helping clients devise a solid strategy—one that can teach best marketing practices and proven ideas for monetization, who can help you attract the largest possible audience. The app itself is only part of the equation; having a partner who can teach you what you need to do with it to be successful is something else altogether.

With the right strategies for content and monetization and a solid app development partner, the addition of an app for a newspaper publisher can be a low-cost, low-risk investment. In many cases apps are priced on a software-as-a-service model, making them affordable for even the smallest of publishers. This method of service also lends itself to being low risk from a technology investment standpoint. Software and platform improvements and updates are typically made by the developer and included in their fee. Now even the most modest of newspaper organizations can have innovative and competitive offerings that are comparable to major brand newspapers.

Simply put, mobile is a medium that can help the local newspaper own the market. The local paper knows its market, has the content, has a sales force who can monetize the app and can market the app to generate an audience. Perhaps never before has there been a new medium that when combined with a traditional medium gives all of the ingredients required to win. The future looks bright.

How do you get started? Search the app stores. See what your competitors are doing. The smart ones are already there. Make the time to do the research. With mobile you have a real chance to own your marketplace again.

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