Web traffic sort of stinks over weekends. People aren't at work. They are out and about. And they aren't looking at their desktop. That's not a new headline, but seems worth repeating after reviewing GateHouse Media's online analytics for the Memorial Day weekend.
Desktop traffic typically accounts for about 90 percent of our company's overall traffic during the weekday. That figure drops by about a percent or two over most weekends. However, over the Memorial Day weekend our desktop traffic was much lower, around 80-83 percent. That's pretty amazing proof that mobile is for real and shows that readers on the go want local content in a big way.
When newsrooms make decisions about coverage for the weekend it's important to consider how readers on all platforms are using your content. And mobile should be at the top of that list.
That basically means that as editors make coverage plans, they should think about readers digesting that content on mobile, just as they would consider how readers in print might use the content. Using Memorial Day as an example, here are some specific ideas that would be attractive to mobile readers:
1. Movie times: Posts each weekend day on the movies that are available in your market, with times. This is especially useful to a reader who is out and about on a holiday weekend.
2. Parade routes: If there was a Memorial Day parade in your community, posting a map for mobile readers on what streets are closed, is great content. If the story posts at 10 p.m. the evening before, it would be worth to post a reminder at 9 a.m. for readers who are out and about for the morning parade. While that isn't as necessary for a desktop reader, you have to consider that a mobile reader is going to use your content for their planning as they are out and about. It's a clickable headline for mobile users.
3. Shopping lists: Offer tips on a few things residents can pick up to put together a last-minute barbecue or desert for a holiday party. Imagine the headline "Pick up these things for a last-minute barbecue today."
4. Weather: While many of our mobile web devices do have a weather feature, feeding in a forecast for the day with specific highs and lows for the morning, lunch and dinner, is a great service, especially if you can include percipitation possibilities during those timeframes. The headline "Today's weather: Cloudy in the morning, but sunny for your afternoon."
5. Things to do: A solid list of things to do for each day, is a great feature on mobile, as it is in print and for desktop users. Consider writing the headline for mobile readers though "5 things to do when you are out and about today."
The opportunity with mobile is very exciting. But newspapers have to start doing more than just feeding their print or desktop content to mobile. In planning sessions, it's time to start talking about how your coverage plans can have mobile-friendly applications. A small tweak to content we already produce could deliver big rewards.
David Arkin is Vice President of Content & Audience for GateHouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com
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