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Conde Nast aims to have mobile sites for all brands by 2013

NEW YORK - A Condé Nast executive at the Netbiscuits World 2012 conference said as it sees more users consuming content on mobile devices, the publisher's goal is to have mobile sites for all of its brands by the end of 2013.

Executives from Time Inc., Condé Nast and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spoke about the challenges that mobile presents during the ?A Conversation with Publishers? session. The panel was moderated by Josh Sternberg, publishing reporter at Digiday, New York.

?The tablet gives us a bit of a catalyst with some of our content,? said Luan Pham, executive director of integrated marketing at Condé Nast?s Golf Digest, New York.

?Mobile is still circling around ? there are some great learnings that we are seeing with brands in the building, and our goal by the end of 2013 is having all of our brands with an optimized site,? he said.

Pick your titles
When it comes to approaching mobile from the top down, Mr. Pham said that Condé Nast likes to test technologies on specific brands, leverage the findings and then apply the learnings to all titles.

For example, in 2009 Condé Nast began incorporating Microsoft Tags into magazine pages. Based on the target demographics of publications such as Golf Digest, the company thought that they might be taking a long shot with the technology, but still wanted to test how readers would respond. Golf Digest was the first pilot from Condé Nast with Microsoft Tags.

Condé Nast focuses its tablet initiatives on the user experience versus porting a PDF version of the magazine into an app, per Mr. Pham.

Twenty-five percent of Condé Nast?s Web page views are happening on mobile devices. Additionally, across all of Condé Nast?s brands, mobile traffic has increased about 700 percent in the last three years.

Mobile can also be used with location and context to make content more relevant for users. For instance, Golf Digest recently rolled out an app that incorporated customized content for users based on how they played a round of golf. Depending how the user plays, the app creates a mini magazine of content and instructions for users to improve their game (see story).

Additionally, the exec said he believes there will be a shift from small banner ads to more interstitial and video ads that take over the screen but is not intrusive to diminish the user experience.

Breaking news
When it comes to breaking news, consumers are often going to their mobile devices first, according to Laurel Lane, manager of digital media revenue for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh.

With consumers still using search to quickly find information, mobile Web in particular plays a large role in how consumers get news information.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has apps for iOS, Android and Nook devices. However, Ms. Lane said that the company sees a die down in downloads unless the company keeps a constant presence on them.

More than snackable content
With consumers relying on their mobile devices more as a source for reading news, users are not necessarily only interested in short, snackable content.

?I think one of the challenges is being able to understand how an audience interacts with your content on various different platforms and then being able to take that data and program for a specific platform,? said Solomon Masch, director of mobile sales and strategy at Time Inc., New York.

For example, Time Inc.?s People recently hired a mobile editor to program and develop mobile-specific content. Additionally, the average user session spent on Time Inc.'s brands is eight minutes, showing a need for long-form content on mobile.

Mobile strategies differ for Time Inc.?s 21 titles depending on what works and does not work.

As consumers shift to mobile platforms, advertising opportunities across both smartphones and tablets have grown. However, monetization is continuously an issue for both publishers and advertisers.

?I think it is going to continue to grow, but in order for brands to spend the big dollars they need to get their learnings there first,? Mr. Masch said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter at Mobile Marketer, New York