AsianInvestor launched its iPad and iPhone applications (apps) in the first half of this year, and research shows that both are having a significant and growing impact on our digital growth.
During the past 12 months AsianInvestor saw visits from mobile devices double to more than 11% of its total visits. In September alone there were more than 7,000 visits from mobile devices, 68% of which came from iOS, which is Apple’s operating platform (iPad and iPhone).
Both iPhone and BlackBerry divert to AsianInvestor’s specially adapted mobile website and together account for around 70% of visits from mobile devices. But, if anything, our digital figures underline the dominance of Apple devices, even in the finance industry.
“I was very surprised about that because you might have expected BlackBerry to be more prominent,” admits Dan Cotton, strategy director for Haymarket Media Group, the publishing house which owns AsianInvestor and FinanceAsia.
Both finance titles have had digital content at their heart for more than the past decade, via both email and website products. The digital push came when Cotton joined Haymarket in 2009 and a visual and structural redesign of both websites followed.
“What we aimed to produce was something that was very accessible but which allowed readers to access related stories and move around the site more easily, including archived content,” says Cotton, estimating that both finance titles have over 25,000 archived articles combined.
What quickly became apparent was that readers were increasingly accessing our site via daily email bulletins from mobile devices.
It meant Haymarket had to adapt layouts to ensure its daily content could be delivered to BlackBerry, iPhones and Android (mobile system created by Google) devices.
“What we tried to do first was make our emails easy to read on BlackBerry and iPhone, because those were the devices which had highest penetration among our audience group,” Cotton says.
With the iPhone this was easier since it renders HTML emails (hyper text markup language, allowing software browsers to read it and display web pages). But for BlackBerry, Cotton says he and his team had to design an email to enable readers to access it quickly.
While iPad is suitable for a full website experience, small mobile screens meant Haymarket had to create special website editions for mobile phones.
“The mobile website is a condensed version, a more simplified page that allows you to read articles more easily,” says Cotton. “Since doing that we have seen more people accessing both sites.”
He notes that the success of Apple products is based on the concept of apps, which are branded wrappers for content supplied through a web connection. “You can brand and bespoke an app much more than a web browser," he says. "As a publisher, that allows you to create a viewing or reading experience which is much closer to a magazine experience, but richer and more branded.
“It uses the power of high-screen resolution and the size of the screen much better than a browser and that is why they are so popular. We know people love apps. It is a huge and growing market.”
AsianInvestor’s apps for iPad and iPhone, sponsored here by HSBC, are different from those of most media houses, which tend to offer either magazine content or live headlines. AsianInvestor does both, with different viewing options, including page zoom and article pull-out.
“If you offer magazine-only," says Cotton, "once readers have been through an edition they won’t return until the following month and that is not the experience we wanted for our branded applications because our brands are all about regular contact.
“We found a way to put the two things together so readers can slip between the experiences seamlessly," he adds. "Within our iPad app you can see live headlines coming through on a real-time basis from the website, which you can view in an easy-to-access template. But you can also access the magazine, including back issues for the year you are in.
“So we have enabled people to enjoy what we think is a nice magazine experience with all the benefits of being able to browse on screen, and you can flip between that and live headlines instantly. We are one of the very few publishers that do that.”