Mobile Wish List

Wireless users are receptive to accessing content through their handheld devices – as long as relevant information can be retrieved quickly and easily, states a nationwide study conducted for the Newspaper Association of America (NAA). What wireless users don’t want is intrusive advertising or an extra fee for basic information, though many indicated they would pay for premium services such as classified advertising alerts.

The report comes as result of the NAA’s Wireless Pilot Project that evaluated how newspapers can best serve their readers with mobile news and information. Consumers participating in the focus groups expressed interest in getting different categories of news and information on different types of wireless handheld devices such as cell phones and personal digital assistants.

Participants in the study didn’t want to spend much time searching for information on a wireless device since they had to pay for minutes; they wanted the information to be useful, easily accessible and quick to download. “Fast food information” is how one study participant labeled what he expects of news on the wireless Web – quick bites of information that allow users to pick from a menu and download additional information as desired.

Study participants also said they want information to be relevant to them – personalized if possible – and up-to-date, not yesterday’s news. They were critical of wireless advertising in general, but more accepting of ads that are personalized to their interests or less intrusive, such as those that appear after the content they want. Some were even pleasantly surprised at the look and utility of some wireless ads.

People also expressed an interest in, and a willingness to pay for, personalized premium services like classified advertising alerts, which automatically transmit information to a user’s mobile device when, for example, an apartment becomes available that meets predetermined specifications.

“Newspapers and their online sites already have the information people want and need. This report helps us understand what people are looking for as we enter the next generation of news and information delivery,” said John Kimball, NAA senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “Being the authoritative source for news and information, especially local news and information, is what newspapers have always done best, and whether it’s in print, online or on a wireless device, that’s what newspapers will continue to do into the future.”

Whether accessed wirelessly or online, newspapers remain a popular source of information. “Online newspapers are able to pack the power of breaking information with deep coverage and insight,” said Jarvis Mak, senior Internet media analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. “Their ability to think more like a 24-hour news radio station and less like a once-a-day news source has delivered a growing audience.”

Nielsen//NetRatings reports that traffic to major online news dailies spiked in traffic during the week ending March 31, 2002, as Internet surfers at work logged on to read national, local, and business news.

Fastest Growing News Sites
Site Unique Audience
Week Ending 3/24
Unique Audience
Week Ending 3/31
Percent Growth 291,000 479,000 65% 514,000 817,000 59% 1,779,000 2,207,000 24% 327,000 399,000 22% 511,000 618,000 21%
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

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