Mobile apps lure media owners in UK

02 October 2009

LONDON: Mobile "apps" and social media are two of the main areas media companies in the UK believe will provide the greatest opportunities over the next year, while many see the BBC and Google as being among the biggest obstacles to their progress.

The Association of Online Publishers recently surveyed its members, including News International, the Guardian Media Group, Bauer, Condé Nast and Haymarket, to assess their priorities for the next 12 months.

According to the results of the annual AOP Census, 70% of this group either currently, or plan to, make web users pay to access at least some of their online content.

By contrast, in the same poll two years ago, 54% stated they had "no plans" to introduce such provisions, indicating a major shift in thinking has taken place in the industry.

With regard to the types of material that will be subject to these charges, more than a quarter of respondents said special reports and downloadable "apps" fell into this category, while 16% pointed to archive and mobile content.

Some 85% of participants regarded the mobile web as a key area of future emphasis, with 75% saying the same for user-generated content, and 73% for social networks and behavioural targeting.

More specifically, 83% of contributors regarded Apple'siPhone as having "transformed" the options available on the mobile internet.

A similar number had either already established, or were working on, platforms specifically tailored for this and similar devices.

Over half of the firms surveyed also said they would introduce paid-for mobile applications in the next year, while 60% intend to produce a wider range of material available on wireless handsets.

With regard to social media, 95% of more traditional media owners in the UK are "keen to embrace" the growing range of web portals which are shaping this rapidly-emerging channel.

A total of 57% already publish content on Twitter, a figure that fell to 48% for Facebook, and 45% for YouTube, with most measuring ROI in terms of the amount of traffic this activity generates.

In terms of threats, seven out of ten companies regarded the economy as the biggest single obstacle they faced, with 53% according this status to their competitors, 53% to the BBC, and 38% to Google.

Data sourced from AOP; additional content by Warc staff