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Print publishers ready to capitalize on mobile market: Study

Print publishers are increasingly focusing on mobile to extend their brands, reach new audiences, generate revenue and offer advertisers the chance to reach locally targeted audiences, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations

The digital advertising and publishing market is poised for growth, supported by new mobile devices and advances in applications and technology. Noting an increase in publisher inquiries about auditing and reporting requirements for smartphones, ABC conducted an online survey of its print publisher members.
?One side of the equation is the technology: networks are faster and provide better coverage, newer smartphones make for a more satisfying reader experience, and these devices are more prevalent than ever,? said Neal Lulofs, senior vice president of communications and strategic planning at the Audit Bureau of Circulations, Schaumburg, IL.

?On the publishing side, mobile is part of a natural progression of news delivery that for several years has been evolving from print-only to multiplatform (print, online, PC, mobile and etcetera),? he said. ?News consumption is also an obvious and valued way for consumers to use their devices with high frequency.

?Increased mobile-based news readership, in turn, is attracting more marketing investment in these channels.?

The report, ?Going Mobile: How Publishers Are Preparing for the Burgeoning Digital Market,? offers an early stage snapshot of the activities taking place in and around the mobile market as both publishers and advertisers focus their attention on it as a source of distribution.

More than 80 percent of newspaper and magazine respondents believe people will rely more heavily on mobile devices as a primary information source in the next three years.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents agree that mobile is receiving more attention at their publication this year than last.

?It's tough to single out a few publishers, as virtually all of the larger newspaper and magazine titles have been early adopters, which is supported by our survey,? Mr. Lulofs said.

?They're formatting their Web sites for mobile viewing, they're working with app developers and e-reader manufacturers, and they're establishing relationships with technology-based subscription agents, among other strategic activities,? he said.

More than a third believes their publication already has a well-developed plan for attacking and conquering the mobile market.

Forty-four percent of respondents track mobile?s impact on their Web site traffic and said the devices increased visits by up to 10 percent.

Half believe mobile traffic to their Web sites will increase by 5-25 percent in the next two years.

Among senior executive respondents, 56 percent said their publication has plans to develop a smartphone application in the next 24 months, in addition to the 17 percent of respondents who already have one in production.

Regardless of mobile?s anticipated rise, ABC publisher members do not plan to abandon their print publications in favor of a digital-only product in the near term.

While 55 percent believe that digital delivery of their publication is important to their strategic future, three-fourths believe that their publication will be available in a print form five years from now.

More than half of the survey respondents believe that the future business model of mobile content will be supported by both advertising and subscriptions.

Early business models will be based on a combination of advertising and subscriptions.

Publishers agree that the mobile market will be both ad- and subscription-supported and many anticipate that mobile will contribute to the bottom line in just three years.

Publishers believe there are many opportunities for paid mobile advertising, including sponsorship, search, video, and banner ads.

?But the ad- and subscription-based model exists in virtually all other media, so I wouldn't expect mobile to be any different,? Mr. Lulofs said.

?Other studies have shown that mobile consumers, in particular, are (a) willing to pay for services, features, and content and (b) open to advertising, which they tend to view as additional content -- often targeted to them specifically via marketing programs or sites to which they've opted in,? he said.

?It's still early, but I think you'll continue to see advertisers and their agencies working with publishers to test a variety of mobile marketing initiatives.?

Dan Butcher contributed reporting to this story.