Consumption of news on mobile devices is on the rise. At The New York Times, there were 60 million mobile views in April, nearly double the number from April 2008.
The paper gets about 10, no, 20 million views per month on the iPhone alone, a Times spokesperson told Beet.TV (the original number was incorrectly reported, apologies). These are internal traffic numbers.
According to The Nielsen Company, there are 53.4 million mobile Internet users in the United States with 22.3 of them using their mobile to access news.
New Nielsen numbers find CNN is by far the biggest player, with 11.6 million unique mobile users. Following CNN is msnbc.com with 3 million, The New York Times with 2.4 million, the Wall Street Journal with 1.7 million, and the Washington Post with 700,000. (Nielsen reports only uniques, not total views.)
Last week at the Mediabistro Internet Week event, I caught up with Rob Samuels who heads mobile products for The New York Times Company. In this interview, Rob said that the Times Wire, the real time feed of Times headlines, is now on the Apple mobile device. He said that the Times iPhone application has had nearly 2 million downloads.
The Times has several advertisers, including the campaign for Microsoft's Bing search engine, Cisco, and the State of Pennsylvania. Does mobile advertising work?
On Friday I spoke by phone with Maria Mandel, Senior Partner, Executive Director Digital Innovation Ogilvy about the value of mobile advertising. She said that with about 20 percent of mobile users accessing the Internet, it has become a viable environment. She predicts that the percentage of mobile users who access the web will soon reach 30 percent. This is a milestone which she says will put the medium in a "whole other world."
The iPhone may be a big game changer for mobile news consumption. Maria says that 80 percent of iPhone users browse the Web. She also says that the click through rates for mobile advertising is 2 percent compared to .2 percent for Web banner ads, and she notes that SMS is "ready for primetime" with some 60 percent of mobile users texting these days.
According to her, the big change is lifestyle: increasingly, consumers are using mobile at home and other places as their primary Internet access device.
We reported on Saturday that The Times will be one of the first news organizations to have an application for the new Palm Pre.
Andy Plesser, Executive Producer
Rob Samuels: Times Wire recently launched on the regular website and shortly after we
now have it present on mobile.nytimes.com available on any
web enabled phone. It's basically chronological listings of the stories
as they come across, as they're published from nytimes.com. So whether
it be something that normally garners a very high editorial ranking
on one of the section fronts or something of lower importance, they just appear on the Times Wire page as they become
available minute by minute and moment by moment. So, blogs, then, are mixed
with arts news, intermixed with home page articles, intermixed with
business and tech. It's all there in one location chronologically as it
Andy Plesser: And it keeps moving. How many lines are displayed, how many stories on a screen? And I imagine screens are different.
Rob Samuels: Yeah, right now I
believe on mobile we're displaying twenty at a time and I think we may
have an option allowing users to go to the prior twenty that were published.
We definitely have that on nytimes.com, but as well on
mobile–being able to roll to be the older, older headlines.
Andy Plesser: Tell us a little about the use of mobile devices, particularly the Blackberry versus the
iPhone versus WAP phones. What are people…how people reading
the Times on different platforms?
Rob Samuels: Sure, you know it's been amazing
growth we've had from January of 2007. About half a million page views on our mobile website to around the election time and now we're
upwards of 35-40 million page views per month on the mobile website
and on top of that our iPhone application, our native app for the iPhone, has tens of millions of page views, essentially, page views on
top of that. Our iPhone application over, you know, a million, close to
two million downloads of our native iPhone application. People on the
mobile website enjoy all the features or most all the features and
functionality of nytimes.com, including stock quotes and movie
showtimes, real estate listings, as we discussed, recipes. Really
it's all there. The ability to log in and get their myalerts, access
to their portfolios. Users have really embraced reading every part
of the Times on their mobile device and largely here in New York we have
a lot of Blackberry readers, a lot of iPhone readers, Windows mobile, Palm.
And particularly around the Blackberry there's a lot of company paid
Blackberry data plans. And so users have..are readily available to
browse the web without incurring a cost. And so we've just seen the
use of the mobile web take off.
Andy Plesser: And how does the monetization,
sponsorship…there are ads. What are the forms of ads emerging
in the mobile media?
Rob Samuels: Right now since the launch of our app, at the
launch of the iTunes app store it has been a single banner position on
every section front, an article page of the iPhone app. And on the mobile
web site there's also the single banner position. In, on the iPhone app,
the content scrolls behind the banner position and it stays fixed so
it's very exclusive. The ad sales are…we sell the ad space in
mobile internally and sales have been going very well. We help
advertisers who don't have a mobile destination page create a mobile
destination page with our development partners. It's really,
it's been a learning experience and an education process, both internally with our sales force selling across print, online, and
mobile and also education throughout the agency and advertiser
community, but we're really, we're seeing a head of steam buildup and
strong interest in everything from tourism to airlines and travel to
book publishers wanting to get their message out in the mobile
environment where it's very actionable. Users have the ability to find
local, local stores, local dealerships in the case of cars or click often "buy a book." It's "click to call," "be connected with a call center"
to purchase a product. It's very immediate very actionable, when you're advertising in mobile.