As Amazon’s media ambitions grow, publishers are wary

As Amazon’s media ambitions grow with every passing quarter, it is leaning on its publisher partners more than ever to realize them.

Some publishers are dedicating entire teams to creating content purely for Amazon’s voice-activated Echo devices or to porting content like recipes over to Amazon Prime Now, its same-day delivery service. Meredith’s AllRecipes product development team of five dedicated to porting its content into the Amazon Echo Show, the Alexa-powered video device. Fexy Media, the parent of Serious Eats and Simply Recipes, has a team of six, plus four contractors, adding the sites’ recipes to Amazon Prime Now. Continue reading “As Amazon’s media ambitions grow, publishers are wary”

Matrix PowerWatch: The smartwatch powered by your body heat

I have a habit of losing my charger or forgetting to charge my devices. That’s why I like the idea behind the PowerWatch. Built by startup Matrix Industries, the PowerWatch is charged by your own body heat. As long as it is touching your skin, it needs no charge.

After almost six years of research, and a year after a successful Indiegogo campaign, Menlo Park, California-based Matrix Industries is shipping its PowerWatch. The technology behind the watch could pave the way for a new era of wearables that never run out of power, said Akram Boukai, CEO and cofounder of Matrix Industries, in an interview with VentureBeat. The PowerWatch sells for $170 on PowerWatch.com. It doesn’t look like much, as it is designed to conserve power.

“We went after people who don’t want fancy bells and whistles,” Boukai said. “As long as you are active and take maybe 10,000 steps a day, you don’t have to charge it.”

This smartwatch harvests energy from body heat, using a chip with a thermoelectric energy converter. Matrix engineered its advanced thermoelectric generators to operate with extreme efficiency. It created more efficient conversion circuitry to power the electronics and charge the internal battery. And its thermal design is built to harvest the small amount of heat available to the wearable device.

Above: PowerWatch uses a temperature difference to convert energy into electricity.

Image Credit: PowerWatch

Boukai said the outside of the wrist is a bad place to harvest energy because it doesn’t produce nearly as much heat as the head, the bottom of the feet, or even the inside of the wrist. The whole secret is maintaining a temperature difference between the part of the watch that touches your skin and the part on the other side. The process takes heat from your wrist and expels it from the other side of the watch.

The company found a semiconductor material that can conduct electricity but does not transfer heat easily. The team created the material by introducing defects into the material at a nano scale, or a billionth of a meter. This material produces a voltage when there is a temperature difference between the two sides of the chip.

When you take the watch off, the data is stored in memory, and the device goes to sleep. When you put it back on, the watch returns to where you left it. It can store data for two years in idle mode. It also has an always-on power meter that tells you how much electricity your body heat is producing. This means it can accurately calculate how many calories you are burning.

The device has aircraft-grade aluminum, and it syncs wirelessly with your smartphone. It automatically adjusts to the current time zone, tracks your steps, counts your calories, and measures your sleep. It is water-resistant up to 50 meters.

It essentially offers the same capabilities as battery-powered fitness wearables, without the hassle of chargers. The watch has no touchscreen, so you maneuver through the functions using two buttons.

Above: PowerWatch has no touchscreen.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Boukai said that the No. 1 reason consumers stop using wearables is that they take them off to charge them, and then they forget about them. You never need to take the PowerWatch off.

Boukai and his Caltech friend Douglas Tham cofounded Matrix Industries as a materials science startup in 2011. They saw that wearables had a problem with poor battery life and so they pivoted to making a smart watch and focused on shrinking down the size of the bulky electronics. The work they did to solve this problem has earned them 10 patents.

“Just a few years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible,” Boukai said.

Matrix Industries won first place at the Last Gadget Standing, a gadget competition at the Consumer Electronics Show. It raised $1.64 million in an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in January and raised $3.5 million more in additional funding. All told, it took in more than $24 million in venture capital from backers such as Khosla Ventures. The company has 11 employees, and it currently creates the chips in-house in Menlo Park, though operations will move to China in future.

The PowerWatch is now shipping to the more than 12,000 people who preordered the device.

A premium version, the PowerWatch X with a color display from Sharp, is expected to ship before the end of the year.  Boukai expects to launch it on Amazon and at retailers next year. The full retail price will be $200.

“It’s a great feeling to have revenue for the first time,” Boukai said.

He said that Matrix is also researching self-charging ear buds and various kinds of devices, as other parts of the body can produce considerably more energy than the wrist.

Apple: iPhone X preorders are ‘off the charts’


(Reuters) — Apple Inc quashed concerns of muted demand for its iPhone X on Friday, saying preorders for the 10th anniversary phone were “off the charts”.

The company’s shares, which have fallen steadily since it announced in early September it would launch two iPhones within two months, rose nearly 3 percent in response.

Pre-orders for the much-anticipated 10th anniversary phone started from 12.01 am PT on Friday.

“We can see from the initial response, customer demand is off the charts,” an Apple spokeswoman told Reuters.

“We’re working hard to get this revolutionary new product into the hands of every customer who wants one, as quickly as possible.”

The company’s website showed delivery times pushed out to five to six weeks for the phone, compared to an initial plan of Nov. 3.

IPhone X’s launch follows weeks of concerns among analysts about the production of the new phone, which for the first time includes new facial identification software to replace the fingerprint used on previous phones.

Analysts have cautioned that production of the phone was below target, due to difficulties in producing the TrueDepth camera system, which houses sophisticated cameras and sensors making it possible to unlock the phone using Face ID.

Wireless carriers in the United States and Canada have reported slow third-quarter customer upgrades.

Major promotions on the iPhone X from U.S. carriers have yet to materialize, and in some cases, the offers have been even less generous than what was available for the iPhone 8, said Walter Piecyk, an analyst at BTIG in a research note on Thursday. The base price for the phone is $999.

He noted that Sprint Corp’s iPhone X promotion of $350 in savings for trading in an eligible device was the most aggressive but still lower than what it offered for last year’s launch of the iPhone 7.

However, electronics retailer Best Buy Co is charging shoppers an extra $100, if they wish to buy an unactivated iPhone X outright.

If customers order the phone on an installment billing plan, they will pay the same price charged by Apple and the carriers.

“Our prices reflect the fact that no matter a customer’s desired plan or carrier, or whether a customer is on a business or personal plan, they are able to get a phone the way they want at Best Buy,” Best Buy spokeswoman Carly Charlson said.

“Our customers have told us they want this flexibility and sometimes that has a cost.”

The Guardian Mobile Lab’s latest experiment targets public transit commuters with an offline news app

Over the summer, the Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab hinted at its next experiment: improving the experience of consuming news when offline. Now it’s revealed the trial product, a news app that incorporates location sharing, content and time customizations, and user data transparency — but is only available for the next few months.

The Lab introduced LabRdr — which can apparently be pronounced like “lab reader” or “Labrador” or another general squish of consonants — on Wednesday. Designed for the public transit commuter who may lose cell service on the subway, for example, and then be left with nothing to read, the app prepares a “package” of Guardian content based on the user’s previous reads in the app and the current stories of the morning or evening. It’s delivered twice a day via push alert, at the times the user has specified they’re commuting; each package contains an amount of content that the app determines will be readable within the duration of each user’s commute.

And yep, location factors in. “We’re experimenting with making offline news reading easier and more relevant, through automatic personalizations of your reading package based on signals like your interests or, possibly in the future, your location and what’s being read nearby,” Mobile Lab editor Sasha Koren noted in the Medium announcement:

LabRdr’s approach to offline news reading is experimental, and different from existing offline news apps in a few ways: Rather than give you all current stories on every topic, it delivers only a self-contained package of Guardian articles keyed to your interests, twice a day just in time for your commute, at times you can specify.

As you use it, it learns what you like to read and delivers you content keyed to your interests. (We’re setting aside important conversations about filter bubbles for now to learn something about personalization.) In addition, we show you how we use the data you share with us, in an effort to enhance trust through transparency…

What we’re looking to learn

What makes a good content recommendation system for news? A lot of the existing work about content recommendations are around e-commerce and we’re interested in what signals are particularly good for news organizations and news reading.

We’re also looking to gauge readers’ reactions to the utility of having a short package of news defined for them for a set period of time. Without the option to read a full spectrum of articles on many topics, will they feel better informed with those they do read, or have a sense of achievement at completing a few articles in a set?

As with all our experiments, we’ll report on what we learn in follow-up posts after the app has been running for a while and we’ve collected and analyzed data and reactions.

LabRdr isn’t the first attempt at improving offline news. Way back in 2012, reading apps News.me and Instapaper both endeavored to serve the offline reader and relied on location to do so, but News.me didn’t survive a Twitter API update. Other apps like Pocket or Evernote require the readers themselves to do the legwork of saving the content for later perusing, rather than having relevant material presented to them.

Another difference is that the Mobile Lab is making an effort to share the data it collects through LabRdr. In a section of the app called the Log, you can view the tracked reading and commute patterns. “The app is a really good first step for gathering information, using it in a respectful way, and seeing how people feel about that,” said Sarah Schmalbach, co-leader of the Mobile Lab with Koren and its senior product manager. She pointed out that readers might feel different about sharing personal information with a news organization than they do about sharing it with, say, Google Maps or Amazon.

“If we can deliver news in more contextually relevant moments, then [will] that content be more valuable to the user?” wondered Connor Jennings, the app’s developer, who came up with the idea during his own frustrating experience reading offline news during his commute.

The team hopes to share its findings about reader trust, habit formation, and more with news organizations; the Mobile Lab is funded by the Knight Foundation (disclosure: Nieman Lab also receives funding from Knight) to explore solutions for the mobile news experience. But its sample will likely be restricted to those who commute using public transit, rather than people who drive, bike, or walk to work.

“It’s pretty narrow. We’re not targeting people who don’t commute; we’re not targeting people who commute by car. There’s a whole range of people we’re not gearing this toward,” Koren acknowledged.

LabRdr provides a “targeted product until we get better and deeper insights,” Schmalbach said. “We’re confident that the audience is big enough to get a big read on this content.”

Like the Mobile Lab’s other experiments — such as real-time Guardian commentary on a U.S. presidential debate via push alert; live push notifications with the Wall Street Journal — LabRdr is a temporary project. It will be removed from the App Store (it’s iPhone-only) after a couple of months.

Subway commuters by Susan Jane Golding used under a Creative Commons license.

The Wall Street Journal is killing its What’s News app (but bringing lessons from it to its main app)

The Wall Street Journal on Thursday said it was shutting down its standalone What’s News digest app — one of the few survivors of a period when top publishers were launching secondary mobile apps aimed at reaching different audiences and incubating innovations harder to execute behind the outlet’s primary homescreen icon. The Journal is currently in the process of revamping its main news app, and it plans to introduce features it developed for What’s News into the main app.

The What’s News app — named for the Journal’s daily front-page briefs — launched in the summer of 2015 as the paper’s first mobile-only product. The app features a swipe-heavy design with a select 10 news stories at a time (plus some opinion). It’s updated regularly throughout each weekday, puts stories in quick summary form, uses custom headlines distinct from those on WSJ.com, and allows users to follow specific news topics. Access to the app was included as part of a subscription to the Journal. The Journal said the app had been downloaded more than 110,000 times; it will cease publishing on June 30.

Prior to the app’s launch, deputy editor-in-chief Matt Murray told my colleague Shan Wang that the What’s News app was the result of a concerted effort from the Journal’s news desk to become mobile-first.

“We were simply doing what all journalists are now doing, which is thinking about digital journalism, what our readers want, and how you experience news on your phone,” he said at the time. “Somewhere we made the connection to the news digest already in our papers, What’s News.”

Now the Journal is incorporating those lessons into its main app as part of a larger overhaul. In an interview earlier this month, before the paper announced its plans to to shut the What’s News app, mobile editor Phil Izzo said it was looking toward the What’s News app for inspiration as the Journal thought about introducing more flexible ways to indicate story hierarchy and package stories in the app.

Other news organizations, such as The New York Times, also introduced secondary news apps only to pare them back. (It’s a common strategy in businesses seeking to stoke innovation — separate and reintegrate.) In 2014, the Times launched the millennial-seeking NYT Now and a standalone Opinion app. It quickly shuttered the Opinion app before moving NYT Now to a free model, eventually eliminating it altogether last summer.

The Times of London also last year closed its secondary app aimed at international audiences after only 10 months of operation. The Washington Post still maintains two separate mobile apps (one “Classic” app, with the usual list of headlines, and one with a more swipe-friendly, forward-looking interface).

The Journal still operates a handful of other standalone apps, including the WSJ Live video app (though it hasn’t been updated since 2015) and WSJ City, an app that shares the same design as What’s News, but exclusively covers London-based business news.

But the Journal’s core focus now is its main mobile app — starting with iOS. Earlier this month, the Journal introduced rich push alerts and added the functionality to follow specific reporters in the app and receive a push notification every time they publish a story — useful for readers who want to pay close attention to a reporter covering their industry. (The paper had introduced a following feature — for topics and companies, not reporters — in the What’s News app last year. The Journal said those who used it spent 20 percent more time in the app than those who didn’t.)

In addition to redesigning the main feed to add more flexibility, the Journal would like to add increased personalization to the app, product director Jordan Sudy said.

“It’s already personalized with content that you save and the push alerts you’re receiving by following certain authors, but we want to be able to actually have some sort of feed or what have you in the app that will surface that content to you in a digestible way,” Sudy said. “Everybody sees the content that’s been chosen by the editors, but [we want to] also make the app for you — but not doing it in a binary way. Right now, it’s all the same app for everybody — the Times sort of does the same thing — or you have these aggregators where it’s the same app for everybody, but aggregated personalized content. We want to make sure we do both.”

The Journal’s personalization capabilities aren’t there to enable that quite yet, but Izzo said it is in the process of laying the groundwork by introducing better metadata through improved article tagging.

While previous redesigns were introduced as big wholesale changes (I wrote about WSJ.com’s 2015 redesign, for example) the Journal is now focusing on a more iterative process that will see lots of smaller incremental changes, Izzo said. He declined to provide a timeline for when the Journal would introduce additional features or when its current cycle would finish.

“We’re thinking of multiple iterations for as long as the phone is the primary delivery system for news, and then whatever comes next, then that’s going to be the thing that we’re thinking of,” Izzo said. “The whole point of making it an iterative process is that we don’t just focus on this intensely for a year and then we go back to doing something else. That’s going to create the same problem we had in the past. What we’re trying to do is set up a place where we can make changes. We’re never going to be a tech company. We’re never going to be Google or Facebook. But what we can do is have more control over our product and more control over what we put out.”

6 months in: Which mobile formats are living up to 2017 predictions?

It’s as reliable as your post-New Year’s Eve hangover. Every year, industry executives and self-proclaimed “thought leaders” cough up a dizzying array of trend pieces and prediction roundups to tell you what’s going to be hot–and not–in the coming year. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong, but we rarely stop to take stock of how accurate these predictions may be.

With 2017 in full swing, we checked in with creative agency execs to find out what’s still on their wish list. From vertical video to playables, we asked them which formats were delivering for them and which ones had failed to launch.

Vertical Video

Prediction: Mobile publishers will lean hard into vertical video in 2017

Example: Big names like the Washington Post and Nat Geo started dabbling in vertical video formats late last year to better align with young, mobile-savvy audiences, leading trend forecasters to proclaim 2017 would be the year of vertical for mobile publishers.

Verdict: Yup

Vertical video was a controversial pick for many media prognosticators last year. Online video purists still argue that that video is meant to be viewed in landscape, but try telling that to the coveted members of the Snapchat generation. “We don’t want to take people out of the experience they’re having, said Lauren Brockport, global UX team lead at Essence. “And with a mobile device, that experience is almost always vertical.”

With 90 percent of all mobile device users reporting that they hold their phones vertically (other estimates range as high as 97 percent), marketers are finding more success by choosing to participate in those habits rather than reshape them. And while Snapchat and Facebook may have started the vertical video trend, the format now permeates the mobile app ecosystem, so you can reach audiences in non-social environments like news and games.

Personalization

Prediction: Personalized ad experiences will be commonplace in 2017 as marketers look to use data to target individuals

Example: Ecommerce giant Gilt used personalized push notifications to let repeat customers know when items from their wish list became available or went on sale. It’s not quite a personal shopper, but it does personalize the often-impersonal experience of online shopping.

Verdict: Sort of?

Personalization was hotly tipped for 2017. A bevy of tech platforms promised to transform data collected by digital publishers and mobile apps into hyper-targeted ad experiences. In a world where Facebook and Spotify are serving tightly-honed experiences tied to individual identities and tastes, mobile marketers are obligated to meet raised expectations for personal treatment.

“We’re optimistic about personalization,” said Tameka Browley, a creative technology specialist at OME. “We’ve seen our television, music and media experiences become more attuned to us as individuals, it makes sense for ads to follow suit.”

However, Browley’s optimism is pinned more to potential than to practical applications. “We still aren’t seeing large-scale personalization to the degree we’d like. A lot of what people call personalization is just more specific segmenting, but I think we’re all still chasing that individual, one-to-one connection.” Browley is still bullish on the personalization trend, but for now her team isn’t involved in practical applications for large campaigns.

Playables

Prediction: Marketers will reach game-playing mobile users with interactive, playable in-game ads

Example: While browsing another entertainment app, a user sees a Candy Crush ad where they can swipe the candies like they are actually inside the game, getting a taste of Candy Crush within the ad unit itself. Then, if they like what they’ve played, they can tap to download the game directly.

Verdict: High score!

The latest estimates place the amount of time the average adults spends inside of mobile apps at two hours and 25 minutes per day, with mobile gaming audiences being the most actively engaged. With that in mind, experts predicted a big year for playables, an interactive ad format that lets users play a lightweight version of a game when they see it advertised within another game – getting them hooked in 30 seconds, and letting the game sell itself. Earlier this year, Google gave the format a boost by adding tools for playables to its Android developer kit.

“Playables have been great, especially for brands who make DR a priority.” says Guy Scanalone CCO of mobile marketing agency Vibe. “They can actually add to the experience rather than interrupt it, and they’re already leaned in so they’re more likely to engage with an offer or opportunity.”

Scanalone wouldn’t say which of his clients had deployed playable formats, but he noted that the format has appeared in some of the most popular mobile games on the market, including Candy Crush and Kim Kardashian’s mobile app.

Conclusion

Buzz doesn’t always beget business, but as the second quarter of 2017 winds down it appears that some of the big predictions from last year’s marketing fortune tellers have come to pass.

Ultimately, predicting the future of marketing can somewhere between tough and impossible. Rather than make sweeping assessments about what the future holds, it may be wiser for marketers to rethink the intervals at which they think about the future. Remaining forward-facing all year round and keeping a close watch on which formats perform will do more to help mobile marketers meet their goals than the long shot prediction that comes true.

The post 6 months in: Which mobile formats are living up to 2017 predictions? appeared first on Digiday.

Need for speed: How HuffPost cut page-load time by 8 seconds in its app

A little over two months ago, HuffPost changed the way it loads articles within its app, which led to significant speed improvements.

By switching from pulling articles from the mobile web to natively uploading them within the app, load times in iOS went from nine seconds to under one second, and load times in Android declined from five seconds to under one second. HuffPost said the faster load times led to an 8 percent increase in article views per visit, but it declined to provide raw numbers. Although the change improves user experience, loading articles within the app requires HuffPost to devote more resources whenever it makes changes to how it presents articles in its app.

“The fact that web-view hybrids make development processes slightly simpler for us doesn’t matter to users,” said Julia Beizer, HuffPost’s head of product. “From our point of view, it has been worth the investment in [loading articles natively in the app] to give our users the rich, fast experiences they’re expecting.”

HuffPost sped up its load times at a critical juncture for publishers. With mobile eating media, speed has become increasingly important. That’s led publishers to adopt fast-loading article features like Facebook Instant Articles and Google AMP, even though users are harder to monetize on these platforms than they are on publishers’ own properties. Although HuffPost remains bullish on platforms, a fast-loading app benefits the publisher by giving it speed while keeping users engaged on its owned-and-operated property.

Prior to loading articles within its app, HuffPost used to use a hybrid app where the app had its own navigation and settings screens, but when users clicked on articles, the pages were uploaded from the mobile web. Although pulling articles from the mobile web created slow load times for users, it was easier for HuffPost to make changes to how its articles were presented in its app.

With the old setup, HuffPost only had to make changes once, and they could do so without having to go through gatekeepers. Now that articles are loading within the app, changes must be made on both iOS and Android, and submitted to the app stores for approval. The Apple App Store can take up to two weeks to approve and implement changes.

Another challenge was creating code that would allow various embeds to load natively within the app, Beizer said.

For example, let’s say a HuffPost writer embeds a tweet, Instagram photo and YouTube video into an article. For that article to load within the app while still showing all of the content, HuffPost must create its own code for Twitter, Instagram and YouTube embeds.

What makes this difficult is that there are dozens of websites and platforms that writers source from when embedding content into their articles, and developers have to adapt by creating new code whenever they spot an embed from a new source. And while social platforms give publishers access to their APIs to facilitate embeds, publishers themselves generally wall off their own APIs because they want more control over the reporting and tracking of their video players.

So if HuffPost were to embed a video from another publisher, like ABC, for example, it likely wouldn’t have access to ABC’s API to create an ABC embed code for the HuffPost app. When this happens, HuffPost’s app defaults to loading articles the old way, by pulling them from the mobile web, which results in slower load times. This occurs for about 10 percent of HuffPost articles, Beizer said.

To make the swap to natively uploading articles, six software engineers worked for about three months. For now, HuffPost articles have the same design on the mobile web and within the app. But the company is experimenting with how to tailor designs for the app, Beizer said.

HuffPost focused on the speed improvements first because “we thought the most important experience we could change was improving load times,” she said.

The post Need for speed: How HuffPost cut page-load time by 8 seconds in its app appeared first on Digiday.

Study: More Americans than ever are getting their news on mobile, but there are huge partisan divides over the media’s proper role

It turns out that The Resistance to President Trump is accelerating changes in how many Americans — especially Democrats — are consuming news.

Americans increasingly prefer to get their news on mobile devices and are accessing more national news, according to a study out Wednesday from the Pew Research Center. These changes are being driven by Democrats; the report also highlights a number of growing divisions in Democrats’ and Republicans’ attitudes about the media.

Pew reports that 45 percent of U.S. adults now “often” get news on mobile devices. That’s an increase from 36 percent last year and 21 percent in 2013. The percentage of Americans who “often” get news on their laptop or desktop stayed practically the same from 2013 through 2017 with 31 percent of U.S. adults saying they “often” read or watch news in that way, according to Pew.

In total, 85 percent of Americans now get news on their mobile devices — the same percentage of people who access news on desktops and laptops, the study said. But of the people who access news on both desktop and mobile, 65 percent prefer consuming it on their mobile devices. That’s up from 56 percent in 2016.

The Pew survey found that the increase in mobile news consumption were primarily driven by Democrats: 52 percent of Democrats surveyed said they now get news on mobile devices often — a 15 percent increase from 2016.

“The gains here were not due to the fact that Democrats tend to be younger than Republicans; in fact, the largest gains were seen among Democrats 50 and older,” the study notes.

Democrats are also spurring increased interest in national news and are consuming more news directly from news organizations. 40 percent of Americans say they follow national news “very closely” now, up from 33 percent in 2016, the study found — an increase split between a 16 percent increase among Democrats and no change among Republicans. And much as with mobile news consumption, it’s older Democrats who are pushing the growth:

Sharp increases occurred among both Democrats ages 35 to 49 (from 26% who followed national news very closely in 2016 to 44% in 2017) and Democrats 50 and older (from 41% in 2016 to 63% in 2017), while there was no significant change among Democrats ages 18 to 34.

That increased interest hasn’t carried over to local or international coverage, for which interest has remained steady or declined:

Interest in local news actually saw a slight decline (33% follow local news very closely, compared with 37% in 2016) while interest in international and neighborhood did not change significantly. There were also no party-line changes here other than among independents whose interest in local news fell 9 points from 2016 (35% saying they very closely follow local news) to 2017 (26%).

45 percent of people who get news from digital sources also said they often get news directly from news organizations, as opposed to from people they know well or people they don’t know well, the study found: “As with interest in national news, this increase is driven primarily by Democrats (55% often get news this way today, up from 41% in 2016). No significant shifts occurred among Republicans or independents.”

Many news organizations have been able to grow their subscription bases due to this pronounced interest in news. The New York Times, for instance, added 308,000 digital subscribers in the first quarter of 2017, and the paper has positioned itself as a defender of truth with a new advertising campaign that it debuted during the Oscars broadcast.

Still, the Pew study found that Democrats and Republicans are sharply divided about what role the media should play.

According to the study, 89 percent of Democrats said it was critical for journalists to play a watchdog role and keep an eye on public officials. Just 42 percent of Republicans agreed. That’s the largest partisan gap since Pew began polling the question in 1985.

“While Republicans have been more likely to support a watchdog role during Democratic presidencies and vice versa, the distance between the parties has never approached the 47-point gap that exists today. The widest gap up to now occurred during the George W. Bush administration, when Democrats were 28 points more likely than Republicans to support a watchdog role.”

Republicans and Democrats also had sharply differing views on whether news organizations favor a particular side, whether information from national news organizations is trustworthy, and whether the national media keeps them informed.

However there is one area where both Democrats and Republicans agree: They both have low levels of trust in social media. Only 5 percent of web-using U.S. adults place a lot of trust in information they get on social media.

The full Pew report is available here.

How Investor’s Business Daily uses reader data to build mobile products

Reader revenue has become the hot topic for many publishers as digital ad revenue is harder to come by. Investor’s Business Daily is mining data from its logged-in readers to develop high-priced products for them.

While IBD routinely ran focus groups and surveyed its subscriber base to figure out how to serve its audience, it realized it could get more information about current and would-be subscribers from content on its website and mobile app. Two mobile products IBD launched last year are already responsible for eight-figure revenue streams, and two more products are arriving later this year.

“We’re going to do what the data tells us,” IBD president Jerry Ferrara said. “The majority of our users come several times a day to the site and the app. And because we’re subscription-based, we’re able to learn a little bit more about our customers.”

IBD got more data about its readers by increasing the amount of content it published, to around 50 pieces per day, optimizing what it hid behind its paywall, and reading signals from readers.

For example, IBD shaped its SwingTrader app, a version of a digital subscription product it already offered separately, by examining readers’ consumption of content on swing trading, including how often they checked that content per day. “The content and product strategy relies on speed,” Ferrara said. “Once we publish the information, the user is typically making a decision off that data within minutes, if not seconds.”

The app, which costs $695 per year, has already generated “millions” of dollars in incremental revenue after launching last December.

Logged-in readers, whom IBD can follow from site to app and back, give the publisher data about how they move across content types. That data also informs IBD’s other offerings, which include both in-person and digital events.

IBD has also used reader data to improve other products. Last year, it bought MarketSmith, a pricey investors tool one of IBD’s sister companies launched. Back then, MarketSmith cost subscribers $1,000 per year. But IBD was so confident in its appeal that it increased the price to $1,500, bundling in features it had planned to sell as add-ons. Those add-ins, Ferrara said, wound up helping with subscriber retention as well.

Together with SwingTrader, the two products have gathered “tens of thousands” of subscribers and led to eight-figure incremental revenue, Ferrara said, though he declined to be more specific.

IBD has added data scientists and mobile app developers, which Ferrara said puts it in a position to launch mobile products in as little as six months. It has two more mobile products in the works for this year, and the only thing that might slow the pipeline would be a market downturn. Ferrara noted that during the recession that walloped Wall Street in the last decade, there was less appetite for new ways to play the market. “When the markets are in a lull, people don’t like to look at this stuff as much,” Ferrara said.

The post How Investor’s Business Daily uses reader data to build mobile products appeared first on Digiday.

Mobile Strategy a Key Driver in the Post-App Era

Just as you’re getting your head wrapped around the building all of these applications for digital business, Gartner says we’re moving into the Post-App Era. What gives? We’ll give Gartner Research Managing Vice President Richard Marshall a chance to enlighten us on the Post-App Era – plus why no matter what era we’re in, you need to focus on your mobile strategy, especially application development. Richard Marshall will be speaking at the Gartner Application Architecture, Development and Integration Summit in London, but he joins us to reveal what the Post-App Era is, what it means to you, and why you need to refocus on your mobile application development strategy.

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