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Demand for news on the go growing quickly: ThinkMobile panelists

NEW YORK - Since print ads alone aren't cutting it for newspaper companies anymore, they are turning to mobile and emerging technology.

This was the key takeaway at a panel during MediaBistro's ThinkMobile Conference and Expo in Nw York. The panelists discussed how mobile has affected headline news.

"We know from our own empirical data that ?news and information' is a very important category for today's 63 million mobile consumers and that demand is increasing at double-digit growth rates on the AP Mobile platform alone," said Jeffrey Litvack, general manager of mobile and emerging products for the Associated Press, New York.

"We also know that our users have a voracious appetite for this information throughout the day, are pulling in local news from their community in addition to one to two other locations, presumably where they're from and where they may be traveling to, so it is only natural for advertisers and marketers to enter into that conversation with messages, offers, or incentives based on content, context, location or any other set of variables that we can deliver targeted offers on today," he said.

Less than a year ago, the AP Mobile platform was launched -- then known as Mobile News Network -- as the first product resulting from AP's Digital Cooperative, an initiative aimed at finding new digital outlets for news and information produced by AP members.

Incorporating local offers into the community setting helps it achieve the right balance of content and advertising to create value for its users, members and advertising partners.

According to Jason Fulmines, mobile product manager for Gannett, New York, The news media, newspaper and magazine industries can no longer be thought of as print media.

The Web, mobile and -- soon -- Internet Protocol Television, or IPTV, and interactive TV strategies from the newspaper and magazine industries are among the most interesting and innovative approaches to new media.

Dubbed "the Publishing 2.0 transformation," publishing brands have changed their content and business models to become media brands to capitalize on their recognition of the tremendous upside for revenue and multi-platform efficiencies that include mobile.

However, mobile still has plenty of room for growth.

"Mobile is all about access and now access can be anytime, anywhere, although the mobile medium is still in its experimental stage for content publishers and users," Mr. Litvack said.

"It's not displacing other mediums," he said. "Rather, the beauty of the platform is that after an article is downloaded, it can be read at what was otherwise considered inaccessible times -- between meetings, on the subway, in the air or in the elevator."

Recent comScore research indicates that mobile is growing at unprecedented rates, with 107 percent growth in daily access to mobile news in the last year alone -- more than 63 million users, with 35 percent of them accessing news daily.

Consumers can take these few moments to connect to news and events happening in their world and beyond while enjoying a new social currency in being the first to know.

Mobile offers a clean and comprehensive snapshot of top news, without being tethered to a PC. It may even prompt consumers to check out the news across other platforms.

Despite the explosive growth of mobile, to some extent news media companies are still figuring out the business model.

"Mobile advertising is still in the nascent stage, so it's unrealistic for anyone to think that this is the end-all and be-all solution," Mr. Litvack said. "We need to work with marketers and ad agencies to expand mobile advertising and grow this channel, especially as we develop local and location-based opportunities.

"User adoption is clearly accelerating, and now we need to get marketers to see the real potential as well," he said. "Mobile can be a truly compelling advertising experience, if the industry can accelerate the move away from branded banners towards calls-to-action that are relevant to users."

Using mobile as a touch point to tap into new consumer bases is a unique opportunity for niche messaging and targeting.

"Leveraging the AP's content in a branded way can move users to consume content on a variety of touch points," Mr. Litvack said.

"By way of example, we can build an app around sports, say for instance, baseball, where fans can follow their local teams from the beginning of the season and all the way up to the World Series, get updates on events and promotions in their area that can be shared via e-mail or posted to Facebook, along with a link to video footage shown online or watched on IPTV," he said.