In May the Associated Press began operating its Mobile News Network, a news site optimized for mobile phones. Two months later, AP launched its iPhone application — along with scores of other content sites — ensuring that its content could be easily viewed on the Apple device.
What AP’s learned: Its mobile content appears to be a hit among news junkies and others, yet serving up ads is another challenge.
In August alone, AP recorded 16 million page views and served more than one million local news stories, according to Jeffrey Litvack, global director of new media markets at AP Digital. About two-thirds of AP’s mobile audience are now viewing content via the iPhone application, while the remainder uses the Mobile News Network.
“If I look at other sites that have been out there, it took them about a year and a half to get where it took us one month since we launched the product, and four months since we announced it,” Litvack said.
Content on www.apnews.com/mobile is ad-supported, but not on the AP iPhone application. Litvack hopes to bring ads to the AP iPhone application later this year or next year, but is working through a challenge that other publishers may encounter as they try to measure clicks on iPhone advertisements.
The challenge: As content is downloaded to the phone and viewed offline, Litvack said it’s difficult to measure how ads are being viewed. “We need to make sure we’re properly accounting for the number of views, that is why the initial version did not launch with ads,” he said.
AP is currently working with partners to run pilot tests with advertisers.
According to M:Metrics, a division of comScore, AP has done well by its iPhone application. It had an estimated 138,000 subscribers on the iPhone platform in July, giving it 5.8 percent reach in the news category and putting it ahead of at least 16 other major news, entertainment, and sports sites. It lags five other major sites, including Google News (729,000 subscribers) and CNN (469,000).
As for subscribers on standard phones, e.g., non-smart phones, AP had 809,000, or 0.4 percent reach, in July. The top source of news to mobile subscribers on standard phones was Yahoo with 3.9 million subscribers, or reach of 1.9 percent, according to M:Metrics.
Asked about the popularity of AP’s iPhone app, Litvack replied: “It’s a more convenient way to view stories, videos, and photos. It puts a news button on the phone, so it’s more frequently visited.”
To date AP has 948 news organizations providing content to the mobile network. Note: The article originally stated the AP had 6 million page views in the month of August, when it had 16 million.
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