Reading on mobile devices has skyrocketed, opening up a world of opportunities for publishers and advertisers looking to hedge big bets on small screens.

However, mobile ad-blocking technology is also making strides. Apple, titan of mobile devices, indicated recently that they were planning to include content-blocking technologies in iOS 9 – an addition that would also cut off majority of ads encoded in a site’s JavaScript. Advertisers and publishers alike might be in trouble if they don’t step back and reassess their mobile strategies.

Just how much trouble? Some advertisers are worried this one release could result in a 25% drop in served ads. This means that while catering to mobile users is becoming increasingly necessary, it could also put publishing sites at serious risk.

As a result, many publishers are looking for ways to accommodate these changes and come up with alternative solutions for revenue generation and advertiser engagement. One option growing in popularity, is the investment in native publishing apps.

Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of publishing apps a little more closely.

The Pros of Building a Dedicated Publishing App 

The first advantage associated with building your own mobile publishing app is that you have more freedom over how and when to serve traditional banner ads and sponsored content to your readers. Because you’re in full control of the mobile experience, and can use whichever device features you see fit, you can decide exactly how readers receive your offers and ads – interactive in-app ebooks, flip-through slideshows, full screen videos, or deep links into another app – without the constraints of a browser.

Engagement is often higher within a publishing app because they provide readers with a smooth flowing branded experience from start to finish. Every action they take can keep them within the app ne leading to another interaction. If you can successfully build these deeper user experiences, time in-app increases, as does time with your organic and sponsored content. This increases their likelihood of responding to a well-placed offer from your advertiser.

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Following that point, many publishing apps allow readers access to at least a portion of content offline (impossible via a website unless a reader is using a third-party tool). In a world of limited data plans and constrained wifi access, this still matters.

The Cons of Building a Dedicated Publishing App

With these pros come a handful of cons. Apps cost time, money and resources to build and maintain, especially in order to “do it right” from a user experience standpoint (which may mean creating unique apps for different mobile devices and platforms).

Once the development is done, you then need to figure out how to get your app into the marketplace, and how to promote it to get downloads. 

And if you thought the work was done once you’ve accrued an initial user base, think again. If you’re going to go through the effort of creating a publishing app, you want users to continue to consider it as one of the first places (if not the first) they go for your content. Developing a strategy to engage readers and keep them coming back is crucial for selling the value of your app to advertisers. 

Alternatives to Building a Dedicated Publishing App

Are there any other options available to publishers? Luckily, yes. 

A relatively simple option is to avoid blocked banner ads while optimizing your site for mobile, is to make sure your site is fully mobile optimized and then use it to house a variety of mobile-friendly sponsored content offers. Landing pages, forms and other on-page CTAs are not affected by ad blocking technology like other forms of display advertising. These components can also be fully tailored to the mobile experience using things like responsive design and dynamic content.

We haven’t seen the last of ad blocking technologies and, while it makes for a dismal outlook for any display ad campaign, publishers have options available that can deliver value to both the readers and advertisers.

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