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The newspaper audience now skews mobile, but what kind of experience are these readers getting? November 2014 research by The Search Agency found that the leading US print news and media companies (which includes more than just newspapers) had embraced mobile sites, but also pointed to issues that the industry needs to address. The study looked at the top 50 print and news media websites ranked by Experian Marketing Services based on mobile traffic.
Among print news and media sites studied, 40% served dedicated mobile versions, 30% used responsive web design (RWD)—despite Google’s push for this format—and 22% served dynamic mobile sites.
While the fact that just 8% served desktop versions of their sites was great news, speed remained an issue across formats. None of the print news and media sites studied were able to meet Google’s recommendation for a 5-second load time. In fact, average load times for each format weren’t even close to this threshold: 67.4 seconds for dedicated mobile, 99.8 seconds for RWD, 110.3 seconds for dynamic mobile and (less surprisingly) 162.0 seconds for desktop. Formatted properly for mobile or not, long load times lead to a poor user experience.
Magazines have seen success on social, and social platforms are good for print news and media sites as a whole since they allow for distribution and sharing of content. It makes sense, then, that all of the mobile websites studied featured social markup—that is, a way to optimize how a site’s content appears when it is shared on social media. But in contrast to this, just 56% of sites featured social sharing buttons on their homepage. This feature allows mobile users to post content in just a few taps, making it even easier for readers to share on social.
Across industries, companies who haven’t optimized their websites for mobile have likely been left in the dust. In Q3 2014, CMO Council and SAS found that three-quarters of marketers worldwide used mobile-optimized sites—the most-used mobile marketing tactic out of those studied. A further 15% had woken up to the trend and planned to optimize their sites for mobile within the next 24 months.
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