How mobile is changing the game for publishers

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Lessons for publishers

Perhaps one of the best lessons for publishers comes from Facebook. In 2012, it became clear that a growing portion of the social network's users were logging in from mobile devices. Facebook was a desktop-centric company, struggling to adapt both on the product front, where the apps were clunky, as well as with monetization.

Over the last year, Facebook has infused a mobile mindset into the company culture from top down. Last June, Mark Zuckerberg announced to the entire staff that mobile was Facebook's most urgent priority. The entire organization was reconfigured to make that urgency come to life. Mobile engineers were embedded into product teams, product managers were held responsible for mobile numbers, and a mobile training program for engineers was created. And instead of just fixing bugs in existing apps, they rebuilt the apps from ground up.

Facebook's focus on mobile paid off. For the second quarter of 2013, mobile revenue made up 41 percent of Facebook's total revenue, up from 30 percent from the previous quarter and 23 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012. The 2013 Q2 report led to a 30 percent increase the company's stock price.

As Facebook illustrates, the most senior executives must champion mobile while building avenues for executing against their goals, including retraining staff, incentivizing and rewarding teams for excelling, and coupling mobile product evangelists with editorial teams. To align goals with rewards, sales people who generate the most mobile revenue can receive special bounties while product managers whose products illustrate the most impressive mobile growth can receive additional resources.

Mobile, however, also gives publishers an opportunity to create entirely new products and experiences. Mobile-enabled new products include geo-targeted news updates and advertising messaging, maps overlaid with relevant articles that help readers navigate a city, as well as long form, multi-piece stories bundled into e-books.

Newly imagined mobile products can provide additional revenue streams, each bringing in incremental revenue, which in aggregate can be significant.

The web brought about the first major transition of the century to publishing. Mobile brings the second. While the first time around, it was a mistake to ignore the web, this time around, not innovating for mobile is a choice -- one that will have tremendous consequences for publishers already challenged to survive.

Gohar Galyan is the business development manager at Zite.

On Twitter? Follow Galyan at @gohargalyan. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Man holding tablet" and "Book icons vector" image via Shutterstock.