The digital ecosystem has reached a critical inflection point: mobile exceeded desktop usage for the first time in Internet history. This trend creates new opportunities and challenges for the digital publishing industry. How do you create consistent experiences across devices? How do you quantify the value of your mobile audience? How can you better support your advertisers’ mobile marketing goals?

These questions are as difficult as they are important to answer. The reason? You have a lot of options in front of you.

What’s The Best Strategy For Publishers on Mobile?

When it comes to mobile optimization, there is no ‘smoking gun.’ You need to do what’s right for your advertisers and audience. The process begins by following several strategic areas:

User Experience

Interactions on mobile are different from experiences on the web. For one, interactions are limited to constricted clicks, taps, and swipes. In addition, mobile audiences have plenty of background noise and distractions to take away their attention: someone could be visiting your site on a train commute, during a conference, or at work. You’d never know.

You need a user experience that is as ubiquitous as your customers. How can you keep them on your site longer? How can you share a compelling advertising offer without disrupting your core user experience?

Recent research shows that 27% of consumers will leave a site if it is not mobile optimized. This trend has a direct impact on your ad revenues and bottom line. Keep audiences around longer, and your job as a marketer becomes easier. 

In the future of media, your mobile experience needs to be impeccable. If audiences are bombarded with irrelevant pop-ups or aggressive sales messaging, they’ll leave. You can have the best content in the world, but if your UX falls short, your revenues will suffer.

Give your audiences the best possible reading experience. One way to get started is to conduct regular customer surveys and research. Collect feedback to understand what UX improvements you should prioritize.


The value of a click is getting higher. Web visitors who stick around are your most valuable customers. With subtle optimizations, you can turn more casual visitors into loyal buyers. In the future of digital media, engagement will be the new currency.

Consumption of digital media on mobile devices has climbed from 18 minutes per day in 2008 to nearly 3 hours in 2015. Consumers are spending a lot of time on their phones, and you need to give them the best possible on-site experience. Otherwise, they’ll bounce.

Your competitors are jumping on this trend, and if you’re not, you’re lagging behind by default. Even though time on mobile is increasing, you’ll need to fight to keep people on your site. Otherwise, they’ll flock to the information that they’re coming across in their Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter feeds.

You can optimize engagement through subtle cues on your mobile site. Make it easier for audiences to browse content and stick around. Encourage them to sign up for your email list or to download your mobile app. Be mindful of technology misfires across devices. Personalization tools can help. So can great content.


Your advertisers are getting stricter about their media spends. Rather than paying for ads on cost-per-mille (CPM) and cost-per-click (CPC) model, they’re looking at a more powerful metric: cost-per-acquisition (CPA).

Advertisers are making sure that their media budgets are generating an ROI. That’s why they’re investigating new advertising models—particularly ones that have a 1:1 relationship with sales, like cost-per-lead (CPL). They’re also looking at new metrics that account for mobile’s unique UX. These include viewability, ad-blocking, accidental clicks on mobile ads, and actual quality purposeful engagements 

In the future of digital media, publishers will need to be open-minded about monetization. It’s important to test new models so that you’re always maximizing value for your advertisers. This ‘experimental’ mindset is especially important on mobile, where price points are still stabilizing.

A strong mobile UX will make sure that you have the right foundations for mobile engagement. You can then ensure that you’re delivering value to your advertisers. Let engagement drive your monetization strategy.

Native 2.0

Research shows that people who click on native ads have a higher purchase intent than those who click on banner ads. But publishers need options beyond boxes labeled “sponsored.”

Native ads are a way for brands to connect with their target audiences. But research shows that consumers are likely to ignore design elements that look like ads. On mobile ads can feel even more obtrusive than on desktop, where audiences have the maneuverability of a mouse, bigger screen, and keyboard. Your aesthetic, content, and value proposition needs to blend in with your core mobile experience.

Legally speaking, you need to disclose anything that looks like an ad. What you can do, however, is remember the fact that you’re reaching human beings on the other side of the screen. For a great example of a strong user experience, check out this sponsored post on The Next Web. 

The messaging is human, the article reads like the quality of any other Next Web article, and the information is attention-grabbing, share-worthy, and helpful. The Next Web is helping its advertisers build close audience bonds by sharing an authentic message. It’s also easy to swipe through the article and access social media buttons. The advertiser is prominent but not in a way that is salesy or disruptive to the core mobile experience.

This high-quality user experience should be ubiquitous across devices. Your mobile site should look as good, if not better, than its desktop counterpart. In the future of mobile, these experiences will flow harmoniously.

Final thoughts

In the future of media and mobile, audiences are in control. Advertisers have a stake in the equation, but their needs are secondary to the people who are reading your content. Your role, as a publisher, is to be facilitator. You need to support the best interests of both sides.

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