When it comes to deploying new technologies, one question that dogs top business media executives is “How do we manage the relentless advances in technology and assure we don't get too far behind or, worse yet, go too far ahead?” said Tony Uphoff, CEO of Business.com.
That question has guided the direction of most media companies in mobile. They stepped cautiously into that space in recent years by working with vendors to launch native applications for Apple's iOs and Google's Android operating system. These generally took one of two forms, replica editions of print publications and/or news apps powered by RSS feeds. The appeal of both solutions was that they caused minimal disruption to internal operations.
In the past couple of years, however, developers have begun to use HTML5 and other technologies to create websites that have a so-called “responsive design”. The idea is to build one website that can automatically adapt to the screen on which it is viewed, whether that's a laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet. Developers can create an HTML5 mobile app once and run it on many different platforms, a key benefit.
“Our approach is to get all of our content to all users, regardless of device,” UBM Tech's Pearson said. “For most of our content, the best way to do that is with responsive design, but we'll supplement that with native apps where there is a purpose for having them, not just to deliver content.”
Responsive design is the answer to some challenges, but it's not the answer to everything, said Farm Journal's Rouda. “Just because you've done responsive-design websites, that doesn't mean you will forget about mobile-only media,” he said.
Roberta Muller, VP-product development and production at Northstar Travel Media, said one of the biggest responsive design challenges is advertising. “When you're designing the layout to render content on different devices, the ad model throws in a curve ball,” she said.
Advertisers' existing materials may not be compatible with responsive-design websites, she said. Plus, she said, both sales teams and clients must be educated about which ad units work with each device and why, she said.
“We need three things to come together in mobile,” said SourceMedia's Tejwaney. “Content that is meaningful and appropriate, an audience that will access that content via mobile devices and solutions that will monetize it.”