Creating a tablet application for your news organization is challenging but doable. Be ready to admit your failures and build on them, said digital media guru Doug Bennett.
“When you’re in digital you have to recognize that there’s no recipe for success because you’re always experimenting and trying new things,” he said.
Bennett is the former president of Freedom Interactive who headed the Orange County Register’s experimental iPad app called “The Peel.” He shared thoughts and lessons learned from the project during a Digital Publishing Alliance event at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.
Bennett believes that creating apps will be important for the future of news organizations. Projections show that one in three Internet users will use a tablet by 2014. Tablets are a medium that didn’t exist two years ago but are now being used by more than 54 million people, he said.
Although the Orange County Register’s app was cut because of new ownership, the development team learned quite a bit.
Bennett’s tips for reaching a younger audience
When creating apps for a younger audience, remember this is an audience that doesn’t already read your product, so find different ways to reach out to them.
- Don’t replicate your print publication or you won’t attract a younger audience. Apps that replicate the print newspaper don’t take advantage of technology. Let the content speak for itself in terms of credibility.
“You can’t put the same content on a new device and expect a different demographic to use it,” said Bennett. “A younger audience expects a different experience on mobile than an older audience.”
- The younger demographic wants content that is more personalized to their likes and dislikes.
- Give the product a unique name. For example, if you name the product the newspaper’s name, the audience will assume it’s a brand replica. In this case, the product was named “The Peel.”
- Not many advertising dollars are going to mobile products right now. However, people, especially young people, are spending quite a bit of time on mobile. Don’t just move web ads over to your mobile product. News organizations have struggled to sell web ads but this does not need to be the case with mobile/tablet ads. Tablet users are more engaged than web users, said Bennett.
Seventy-seven percent of users use the device daily and spend more than 90 minutes a day using the tablet. According to Bennett, tablet users are more engaged with content and with ads. When you provide interactive content such as video, music and high resolution photos it engages the audience more than a smart phone or print product. RJI