Over two thirds of the UK's top 175 print media publications' digital sites don't display effectively on handheld devices

Just 31 per cent of general weekly mags and 22 per cent of women's weekly mags render effectively for smartphone and tablet users

London, 11th April 2013 — New research shows that most of the biggest print publications in the UK are missing out on their slice of the estimated £526m annual spend on mobile advertising by not offering digital sites which render effectively on tablets and smartphones. Conducted by in-content digital advertising company Vibrant Media, the research discovered that nearly seven out of every ten (68 per cent) of the top print media publications by circulation in the UK lack a digital site which displays effectively on handheld devices.

Total Publishers - Yes: 32% No: 68%
Daily News - Yes: 60% No: 40%
General Weekly - Yes: 30.8% No: 69.2%
General Monthly - Yes: 27% No: 73%
Women's Weekly - Yes: 22.4% No: 77.6%
Women's Monthly - Yes: 37.5% No: 62.5%

The likelihood of a publication offering a site which displays effectively on mobile screens varies greatly between both the category and frequency of the publication. Daily news publications are the best performers in terms of how they render on handheld devices, while women’s weekly magazines’ digital sites were the worst performers.

Sixty eight per cent of print publications do not have a digital site which displays effectively on handheld device screens. Fiona Salmon, Publisher Solutions Director at Vibrant Media said, “Most publishers still rely on websites developed for desktop users to serve their mobile consumers, but these desktop focused websites often render so badly on handheld screens they can make the ads redundant. Serving ineffective ads on mobile devices limits publishers’ opportunity to earn revenue from mobile ads, and may contribute to a sense among publishers that going mobile isn’t yet worth the effort. However, the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) predicts that by the end of 2013, twenty five per cent of all online traffic will be via mobile devices. Publishers must supply this demand. Currently, many ads on publishers’ sites aren’t performing effectively within the confines of handheld screens. They often appear on handheld devices as either huge and interruptive, or the creative appears so small the ads are almost impossible to see. Worse still – these ads are often clicked by mistake, creating a negative digital experience for mobile consumers. Publishers need to adopt nimbler formats that work with the small format display, that respect the consumer, respond to the consumer’s device and enhance rather than compromise the consumer’s experience.”

“A separate, fully optimised mobile site is not an absolute necessity to deliver effective mobile ads if publishers use the right technology. Burgeoning technologies will enable publishers to serve ads optimised for handheld devices, even if they are not placed within specifically mobile sites. However the digital sites publishers deploy must at least render effectively on smartphone and tablet screens to give consumers a quality experience that matches the quality of their editorial. If a site does not display effectively on the smaller screen of a handheld device, consumers will go to other sites for a better content experience.”

Daily Newspapers

Eight out of twenty daily news publications do not have a site that renders effectively on handheld devices.
Most of the UK’s major daily print titles have sites which display effectively on mobile devices, but a large minority (40 per cent) still lack a mobile-ready site. Fiona Salmon said, “Print readership and digital readership are almost equal for some of the UK’s major news publications. Yet a sizeable proportion of these publications still haven’t made the move to mobile. By not having a site that performs on the numerous handset devices consumers are adopting, the UK’s most popular publications are missing out on a rapidly growing mobile ad spend from brands. Some of the bigger publications are focusing on content apps. There are benefits to this approach – such as encouraging app users to pay for content – but solely focusing on an app strategy for mobile content distribution can mean that the publisher only effectively serves consumers with devices compatible with their app. For example, if publishers only develop an app for iPhone users, they’re only going to serve the estimated 31 per cent of UK mobile users with such a device. Moreover, such a strategy can ignore the more casual mobile news consumer who often does not want to download an app for each news source they want to read. Hence an app only mobile strategy can present a barrier to content discovery by new readers.”

Women’s Weeklies

Seventy eight per cent of women’s weekly magazines do not have a digital site which displays effectively on handheld devices.
Fiona Salmon said, “Women on the move cannot effectively consume most of the biggest female-focussed publications in the UK via their mobile device. Women’s magazines often have a wealth of high quality editorial images, which are one of the most valuable elements of a publisher’s inventory, and a huge driver for mobile use. With such rich and attractive content to display, it’s crucial that they render properly on handheld devices. Publishers must remember that an estimated one in every three page views comes from a mobile device, according to AOP. Without a digital site that displays effectively on handheld screens, such publishers are not placed to capitalise on the mobile ad revenue opportunity such traffic offers. Publishers might feel mobile ads are currently ineffective, but that’s because they’re not deploying ad formats which take into account the very different priorities of mobile browsers. Consumers don’t want mobile ads that get in the way of immediate access to quality content on the move. On the small screen of mobile devices, consumers want to be empowered to initiate ads on their own terms, at a time of their choosing. Publishers must use ad formats which respect the consumer and respond to the consumer’s device.”

Women’s Monthlies

Just thirty eight per cent of women’s monthlies have digital sites which render effectively on handheld devices.
Fiona Salmon said, “As they only release a new issue twelve times a year women’s monthlies perhaps have a greater concern with keeping their readership loyal. They can do this by offering content through mobile sites which maintains consumers’ relationship with the publication between issues, and brings the benefit of mobile-ad revenue.”

General Monthlies

General monthly titles – serving the mens’ sectors and specialist interests including some of the most well known technology and gadget websites – render effectively on handheld devices in just twenty seven per cent of cases.
Fiona Salmon said, “General monthlies include specialist high-quality content with a very high value to the right advertiser. Many offer premium digital audio, video and image content through their websites. Given the three-fold increase in the number of people viewing video via mobile devices year-on-year that the AOP has seen, this shows that publishers that don’t enable effective access to video content via smartphones and tablets may not be making make the most of their digital assets. Video should be as big a driver in monetising mobile for some general monthly publishers as images are for women’s weeklies. Consumers are engaging with rich media content on mobile, and publishers should be monetising this.”

Notes to Editors:

In March 2013, Vibrant Media used an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 to assess the digital sites of the 175 print media publications listed in the National Readership Survey (NRS) top line readership report for January to December 2012. The sites were assessed by their ability to render effectively on each of the mobile devices on a first visit. “Render effectively” is defined as the publication’s site displaying the publication’s content with sufficient legibility and usabilty to a handset user without zooming into content. An average of the results from both devices was then calculated to give a mean figure for the percentage of the sites which render effectively on mobile devices in total, and for each category of publication as defined by NRS.


National Readership Survey, January to December 2012


Association of Online Publishers Digital Landscape Report, 4th March 2013

Orange Exposure 2012

2012 Full Year IAB/PwC UK Digital Ad Spend Study

About Vibrant
Vibrant Media (www.vibrantmedia.co.uk) is the world’s leading provider of in-content contextual technology that gets brand content and advertising discovered across platforms. With over 6,500 premium publishers, reaching more than 250 million unique users per month (comScore, 2013), Vibrant gives top brand marketers the opportunity to deliver highly targeted, user-initiated campaigns, within relevant text and images. Vibrant works with top brand advertisers such as Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, P&G, Sainsbury’s and Unilever. The company was founded in 2000 and has offices in New York, San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, London, Paris, Hamburg, Munich and Dusseldorf. For more information about Vibrant, please visit www.vibrantmedia.co.uk or www.facebook.com/vibrantmedia or www.twitter.com/vibrantmediauk. Vibrant’s blog with insights on the digital marketing industry can be found at www.RelevanceMatters.com

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