Warc Blog

'Mobile-first' obscures real priorities

27 February 2014
BARCELONA: Adopting a mobile-first strategy is to focus on a particular platform and lose sight of the bigger picture according to a leading industry figure.

John O'Donovan, chief technical officer at the Financial Times, said the term was little more than a buzzword and was effectively meaningless in the context of a multi-platform world.

He warned that such terms "start to get a life of their own and become sentient beasts – they will crawl all over you if you let them".

"If you think about mobile first you are thinking of a specific-point solution, which is only one way of dealing with your audience, and if you start to think about it too much you forget about the other pieces," he told The Drum.

"Focusing too much on one thing can lead to being obsessed with the things mobile can do – such as responsive sites," he added.

The Financial Times, he explained, operated a 'universal publishing' strategy, seeing how content could be made available on all platforms that it made business sense to be on.

One consequence of this was that the newspaper now made more money from its content than from advertising, which O'Donovan described as "a really interesting shift"; the split is 64:36.

The Financial Times has not neglected the advertising side of its business, however, having recently introduced FT Smart Match, a semantic advertising format that goes beyond keywords to analyse the meaning and concepts of content to ensure brands appear in a relevant context. The FT claims engagement rates increase "up to tenfold".

O'Donovan also advised publishers that meta data remained important. "Everyone forgets about meta data," he said. "They think they can just make stuff and then forget about how it is organised in terms of how you describe your content."

However, without it "all your assets are useless" as it was impossible to find material in archives.

Data sourced from The Drum; additional content by Warc staff

 
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