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Understanding the Essentiality of a Mobile App for your Newspaper or Magazine

Android App Development, Enterprise Apps, Enterprise Mobility Solutions, Enterprise Mobilty, Enterprise Solutions, iOS app development

If you are in the business of selling news, then you cannot be ignorant of the power of mobile applications in disseminating news to the largest number of people and the impact it has in garnering reactions in the real time. The leading newspaper and magazine publishing houses have their own mobile application. Some news agencies have tied up with applications that give access to news or popular articles from multiple sources.

Does much change once you go digital?

Yes. First, there is more use of images and videos and second, the reader wants condensed news and the option to read it in detail at their convenience.  Furthermore, the current news must be constantly updated so that real time happenings are available for the reader and they do not have to wait until the next day to find out today’s news.

A simple Google search of an event will give the user access to the leading news agency website links and also segregate it into videos and images. For print media, this is a time of downswing, with only a niche community picking up a printed copy to read their news or article. As the demand for printed material declines, there is an incremental shift towards mobile, which the newspaper and magazine houses must embrace to stay relevant in the current era of reader preferences and to capitalize on a growth trend that still has room for new ventures.

Also, it provides access to a global reader base at a fraction of the cost.  Mobile applications give readers the luxury of a familiar interface and experience of reading a coveted magazine or newspaper, in a device that they can carry and manage anywhere they like. So, if we were to step into the metro at any time during the day, whereas formerly people’s noses would be buried in an easy to carry digest or novel, or some were bold enough to struggle with the many pages of a newspaper, these days we find people boring into their smartphones of tablets and smartly scrolling through the headlines and clicking on the article they would like to peruse at a greater length.

How do we monetize the app?

A primary concern for adopting a mobile app strategy will be how one can generate revenue through it? One option is to make it a paid application, many magazine do have subscriptions with free app download options. Of course, subscriptions are viable for newspapers or magazines with a strong reader base and powerful market presence. The competition is very tough and there is a lot of free content from reliable sources available online. Other commonly used methods are sponsored stories and events. Some other common ways to generate revenues include in-app advertising using banners or pop-ups that are non-invasive, that is they do not interfere with the article’s flow and cause unnecessary interruption for the reader.

Subscriptions can be offered in the form of In-app purchase of some premium content or to give complete access to a story. Wired magazine uses this model, whereas The New York Times gives readers 10 free articles every month.

Magazines that target niche segment such as business, music or fashion can promote related events, sponsor them and sell their tickets to generate revenues.

What reader wants

The mobile app must go beyond being a responsive page with news content. Users seek engagement on their mobile, and to provide them entertaining engagement, the user experience must deliver the right experience. The advantage of a mobile application is that the user’s reading preferences can be assessed and their newsfeed can be adjusted accordingly. For instance, if the user is frequently reading news on entertainment, or finance topics such as Bitcoin, the newsfeed can be adjusted to cater to their taste and news related to these topics can be kept on top spot in the reader’s personal newsfeed and push notifications can be sent when their device is in sleep mode.

Social media integration is essential as readers like to share their views and in the age of social networking, they can be brazen about who reads their opinion. To ensure complete user engagement, there must be options to share the article, review it, comment, and participate in contests or surveys.

Since smart devices present the option to easily view videos and images, there is a marked preference among users for news videos, audios and slideshows. Another preference that users show is for viewing headlines and saving articles they want to peruse completely for later, at a leisurely time when they can read the article at their own pace. These are some of the elementary features that users seek. Over and above this, the newspaper or magazine can offer some custom features that will be the USP of their application alone. These can be in the form of the UI/UX or the writing style or user engagement.

Some Must-have Features

There are a few features that we highly recommend for a newspaper or magazine app –

  • “live” or Breaking” news feed that will give the latest, real-time news to a user in a succinct headline. If the user is interested, they can peruse the article in greater detail by clicking on it and going to the article. This news can also be arranged in the order of the user’s news preference. A push notification that features the news item on the screen or the notification bar will work well.
  • Newsfeed can be arranged with filters such as –
    • Popular news
    • User interest
    • Editor’s recommendation
    • Topic
    • Author
  • “Save article” for later option
  • Personal profile of user and sending push notifications on the basis of their news preference
  • Option to set newsfeed preference
  • Offline news viewing mode

Technologies needed for the features

  • GPS/Map – integrating GPS will enable the app to filter news for location-based information. This feature will give the local impact of any global occurrence and also add more weightage to local news.
  • Camera – the camera can be used as a barcode scanner for tickets or passes to events. In an interesting use, it can also be used for citizen journalist piece by letting the user upload any real time video or image of an important event they feel will make breaking news.
  • Payment Gateway – a secure payment gateway will enable user to pay for any subscriptions or purchases they make on the app
  • Social media integration – Basic Twitter, Instagram and Facebook integration with options to share via email, WhatsApp or other messaging services will enable the user to share any interesting news and their views on the same.
  • Native user experience – if the app is native to the platform it has been built for, it will be able to better utilize the device and platform technologies for a seamless user experience.

A news or magazine mobile application is an extension to the various platforms from which news can be transmitted to a maximum number of users. Currently, it is as powerful as websites and web applications if not more. The edge it has over websites and web applications is that it affirms readers’ loyalty to the publication and their desire to stay updated with their favourite set of writers and news agency.

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