Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
A window into one newsroom’s diversity opens, but an industry-wide door shuts (for now)
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Nov. 18, 2014, 2:04 p.m.
LINK: mobilemediamemo.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   November 18, 2014

You may known Cory Bergman as the cofounder (and now general manager) of the innovative mobile app Breaking News, or as the cofounder of Seattle hyperlocal network Next Door Media. But now he’s got a new email newsletter, Mobile Media Memo, that I suspect a number of Lab readers will be interested in. (Subscribe here.) The first issue just went out and features some smart thoughts on a pet peeve of mine: Journalists’ obsession with equating length and quality.

In the world of media, longer content is heralded as higher quality. A six-minute piece is more prestigious than a minute-twenty package. Full-length features trump shorts. Shows beat webisodes. Two-thousand words are better than two hundred. There are lots of reasons for the industry bias toward longer content. Legacy platforms and business models. Prominence and awards. Creative freedom and journalistic context. Ask just about anyone in the content business, and they prefer longer work.

[…]

That doesn’t mean there’s not a market for longer-form content on mobile. I read books and watch movies on my iPhone while flying back and forth from NYC. Tablet users, especially in evening and nighttime hours, read longer-form stories and binge on Netflix. But on average across the mobile universe, shorter content is consumed more. It’s also the gateway to longer forms of content: social apps act as recommendation engines for your attention. That’s how Facebook’s app became the “home page” of mobile, accounting for more time spent than all mobile browsers combined.

[…]

Part of the problem is the industry’s fixation on “time spent” as an engagement metric. I remember a Poynter study a couple years ago that discovered the average “bail out” point on a tablet is 78.3 seconds of reading. The recommendation? Write the story in such a way that gets users to keep reading. The obvious solution: write a shorter story.

It’s often better to maximize “time saved” rather than time spent, especially on a per session basis. Imagine, for example, that you can get the nugget of a 2-minute video in a 24-second clip, or 80% of the value in 20% of the time. For most mobile users, that’s more delightful than watching the full 2 minutes. The more delighted the users, the more frequently they’ll return, which all adds up to a lot of time spent/user at the end of the month.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
A window into one newsroom’s diversity opens, but an industry-wide door shuts (for now)
The New York Times’ report comes on the heels of a dispiriting announcement from the American Society of News Editors that the group would be pausing its annual census.
When you leave a company, can you take your podcast with you? Here’s how one team did it
Plus: More thoughts on Joe Rogan and Spotify, the BBC releases its annual plan, and Spotify is reportedly going after podcasts again.
The Atlantic’s layoffs may sound the death knell for two media revenue hopes: Video and in-person events
“In one week in March, maybe two, the ground fell out from under live events.”