The Future is Now: MPA’s Mobile Matters Conference

How many times a day do you check your cell phone?

It is probably around 220 times, says Lauren O’Keefe Hendricks, Vice President of Publisher Partnerships at Kargo.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat—think about the list of apps that cover your phone’s home screen.

MPA -The Association of Magazine Media held its Mobile Matters conference on Thursday, November 5, and invited students from the NYU MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media program to attend. The conference focused on how and why mobile is becoming increasingly important in the publishing industry. The day was full of industry professionals sharing insights on the power of content on mobile platforms and how it can be optimized for publishing and advertising opportunities.

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Callie Schweitzer and Ian Orefice during their round-table discussion with Eric John, Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy and Initiatives for the MPA. Photo courtesy of MPA.

“It’s about using the access we have to reach the readers the way they want with content that they want,” says Callie Schweitzer, Editorial Director of Audience Strategy for Time Inc. This is increasingly being done through video and social media.

In a round-table discussion, Schweitzer and Ian Orefice, Senior Executive Producer for Time Inc. Video, shared how videos can be repurposed for different digital and mobile platforms to increase the likelihood consumers will interact with content. Schweitzer gave an example of people on Snapchat not looking for the same types of videos, or the same length of videos, they want to watch on Facebook. By individualizing content for specific platforms, publishers can increase the likelihood of unique visitors.

This raises the opportunity for publishers to monetize from this new multi-platform reach. During the conference, native advertising became a hot topic of discussion and a likely answer to the problem.

“Why can’t we tell stories for our own ads?” asks Brian Madden, Vice President of Audience at Hearst Digital Media. “You can show your audience they can expect amazing quality from you; that way, when a native ad comes through, they will think, ‘Well, this will be good too.’”

MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media students with Eric John, Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy and Initiatives for the MPA, the host for the event.
MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media students with Eric John, Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy and Initiatives for the MPA and the host for the event.

Publishers are increasingly using native advertising to seamlessly transition between editorial and advertisement without disruption to the consumer on whatever platform they are using. This means there is potential for less ad disruption when we scroll through our timeline.

But what good is this new model for advertising if consumers aren’t looking at the ads? Jonathan Schaaf, President of Digital Investment at Omnicom Media Group, looks toward the current and future trends of mobile to find the best way to attract an audience.

“We are seeing a trend of millennials who choose to opt-in instead of opt-out,” Schaaf says. “More and more users are asking for choice.”

Publishers can answer with advertising that creates a positive user experience. They recognize there is nothing more annoying for a user than scrolling through their favorite website and having to watch where they click in fear of hitting a pop-up. The industry is ready to improve a consumer’s relationship with advertising.

“It is really important for publishers to have a long-term plan,” says Susan McGregor, Assistant Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School. “We can’t become dependent on one source of traffic.”

Just as the digital revolution swept in and took media by storm, another change could be right around the corner. Publishers must try their best to keep up with these changes and engage users where they are consuming content, McGregor explained.

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Dan Ferguson during this panel, “WHAT’S NEXT: Is virtual the new reality?” Photo courtesy of MPA.

It looks as if that next big change is rapidly approaching. Some, like Dan Ferguson, Executive Vice President of Digital Interactive and VR Strategy at Groove Jones, might even say it is already here.

Ferguson says he believes virtual reality will be the next big thing to hit the digital world—and the proof is in the paper: the New York Times paper, that is. On the weekend of November 7, the newspaper launched its partnership with Google for a virtual reality project.

Long gone are the distant dreams of what the future may hold for us. Paul Canetti, Founder and CEO of MAZ, says publishers must be ready. “It’s not if, but when.”

Now, I have to go check my phone.

by Marie Waine

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