Mobile platforms await digestible info

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Wireless devices are ubiquitous in the business world, but the question remains whether—and to what extent—publishers should make mobile platforms part of their business model. Peter Spande, VP at CMP's TechWeb network, offers his thoughts on the possibilities for business publishers.

MB: What do publishers need to know about mobile opportunities?

Spande: There are a number of things to be thinking about here. On the mobile platform side, it's still very early but it's progressing quickly. In the technology space, a very large number of our audience already has the devices necessary to make this work. There was a Pew Internet study recently that said that 34% of all Americans have phones that are able to browse the Internet. So it's something that is available to many Americans, and certainly within the business-to-business space, it's already a fixture in at least the managerial and executive ranks.

Primarily they're using [the devices] for e-mail; the move to the mobile browser space has been fairly slow thus far. But it's really speeding up quickly, and it's not a question of if, it's more a question of when and how fast people are going to adopt this. People will be accessing their online content through this platform.

The second thing publishers need to know is that the content experience is extremely different on a mobile device than on a browser. If they want to have their content preferred and read, they're going to have to treat that presentation differently.

MB: What content works—or doesn't work—in a mobile platform?

Spande: Not all content makes the transformation very well. Just pushing everything to a mobile format may not make sense. At CMP, we've been very selective about what types of content we're moving. We have a number of mobile sites up right now that are still fairly young—and we're still playing with them—but they're growing quite rapidly.

News is a great content type to translate to an online format. We've got a tech encyclopedia that we're working on creating a mobile version for. Things that are readily digestible and don't require a lot of graphical detail, those kinds of things work very well. Some of the content we're not doing is detailed reviews with schematics and detailed graphics, and 10,000-word pieces. That kind of content doesn't translate nearly as well because people are on the go by definition with these devices, and the screen is still rather small in most cases. That content doesn't translate very well to the "third screen."

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