Tuesday 18 September 2012

ALPSP Conference Day 2: Apportunity Knocks - advice from Semantico's Rob Virkar-Yates

Rob Virkar-Yates shares Semantico wisdom
Rob Virkar-Yates provided advice on mobile digital strategy from an industry supplier perspective for delegates at last week's ALPSP conference.

He questioned whether apps are the VHS or Betamax to the academic world and asked whether apps represent an opportunity for the scholarly market and can you make any money out of them? He presented Semantico statistics to illustrate some of the issues to consider:
  • 68% of 15-24 year olds (UK) use the internet on mobile phones
  • 11% of UK households have a tablet
  • Younger audience are heavy users of mobile
  • Only 5% of sessions served in 12 month period for some big publishers has been from mobile site
  • 50% of people have downloaded an application and actually used it.
The type of apps that tend to be most successful are those that deliver micro-experiences. These are experiences that do not overwhelm or perplex the customer, are relevant, small and beautifully formed. He cited good micro-experiences as: Tools of Change app, his bank's fast balance app and Spotify (amongst others) as they are focused, they do one thing, but they do it well. With the arrival of the iPad comes the macro-experience: that adds significant value and richness and provides experiences that go beyond the text. Good macro-experiences included: The Wasteland app.

He went on to define the recipe for a good micro-experience as:
  1. take on sharpened proposition - do one thing really well, fight one battle
  2. reduce content aggressivly - content should be be ‘glanceable’
  3. think small - architect from the ground up
  4. push back - resist pressure to add more
  5. be agile - not software, move fast, iterate.
Consider content that is location specific or for quick reference. Think about discovery and bookmarking, cost and value. Understand your options and don't forget the cost of reach through an app or via a mobile website. If you already have a mobile site what can you do? Make an ‘app’ with a responsive design solution: a web app! This can serve a single source of content and be laid out so as to be easy to read and navigate with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling, on any device. When you get it right, you get a really nice, simple app site which is like a micro-experience app. While this can be seen as a defensive move, the pros are that it is low risk and high reach, has comprehensive browser support, is future proof and has a single code base. The cons: it's not a specific content set, it front loads process, is network dependent and isn't an ‘app’!

Is there an opportunity? Probably. But micro- or macro-experiences will depend on the nature of your content. Can you make money? The low cost and potential reach of web apps might be the best option for the majority.

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