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NY Times eyes deep linking to drive app use

NEW YORK ? A New York Times executive at the Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2014 conference said he expects deep linking to be integrated in the news organization?s mobile applications shortly as it strives to be where its core readers are.

During the session, "Mobile as a Key Growth Driver for the Nation?s Leading Publisher,? the executive discussed how device sales over the holidays affects mobile marketing decisions and the lessons the Times learned from running different campaigns this year.

?We don?t do enough of that [deep linking] right now and that?s something we?ll have integrated in our apps very shortly,? said Scott Stanchak, director, mobile marketing. ?But being able to take someone directly from Google Search directly into the app, being able to take someone from a social post directly into the app, that?s really important.

?Being able to take someone and say you need to be spending the time in the apps is really important to us. Especially as we know that so many consumers are not sitting with a newspaper outside a Sunday.?

Mobile Marketer organized the Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2014. 

Navigating seamlessly
While Web sites on the Internet are built to enable any individual page on the Web to link directly to any other page, mobile apps? structure does not permit navigating seamlessly from one app to another using hyperlinks, limiting the use of app links in  marketing and advertising campaigns.

Deep linking reduces the number of needed taps and creates a smoother conversion process. Removing the navigational barriers gives deep linking the ability to completely transform the mobile app ecosystem in terms of access to marketing creative and services.

The leveraging of deep linking reflects the evolution at the Times, a 163-year-old newspaper that has been criticized for slow progress in embracing the mobile mind shift that has left traditional media struggling to keep up.

Starting Monday, the Times will be exploring which new features of Apple?s iOS 8 platform to include in its apps, Mr. Stanchak said, declining to give details. He said the news company definitely will support some of the new features at its disposal from Apple.

At the Times, which is known as the United States? newspaper of record, mobile-related discussions focus on the content consumed by its core of older, wealthier readers.

That said, the Times? audience composition across its three key channels -- mobile applications, the mobile Web and desktop computers -- is roughly identical.

?You?d think it would be drastically different, but it?s not much different,? Mr. Stanchak said. ?With our audience, if people are consuming us on two devices, attention is drastically higher. If it?s on all three devices, it?s tremendous.?

???The Times has been dedicating considerable resources to strengthen its cross-platform content, while paying special attention to digital. 

A decision to charge subscription fees for comprehensive cross-channel access or digital-only is paying off. More than 831,000 subscribers pay to access the Times on mobile phones, tablets and computers. Digital subscriptions covering online and mobile editions have surpassed digital advertising revenue. However, ad sales on mobile are a growing component of the publisher?s business and future focus. 

Mobile is closing the gap with the Times? print edition. ??Digitally, the newspaper has 831,000 digital subscribers, versus 1.26 million average Sunday print subscribers.

Its Web site, www.nytimes.com, receives 8.5 million average homepage views per day. The organization?s iOS applications rank No. 1 for revenue in the news category, while its Android platform is top in revenue in the general and business category.

Scott Stanchak at Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2014

?Nearly 50 percent of all Times digital traffic is on mobile, reflecting what Mr. Stanchak called a mobile-first approach to its task of enhancing society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information.

Despite smartphone and tablet market saturation, the device market retains strength, with 2015 tablet sales seen growing 25 percent from this year. Sales this year are expected to represent a 24 percent increase from 2013.

Sixteen percent of Times mobile visits is apps, he said.

iPhone indexing 
General news is the top indexing iPhone app category, Mr. Stanchak said.

The large number of mobile devices given as holiday gifts opens up opportunities to engage the flood of new users in the upcoming shopping season, he said.

One in four U.S. ecommerce sales came from mobile last year.

?We?re not just doing new product creation,? Mr. Stanchak said. ?We?re trying to look at our existing audience and figure out how to take them to the next level.?

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York.