With its roots dating to the first news app on the market in 2007, AP News delivers an all-new personalized look at the day’s headlines. Our global director of mobile products explains how the app came about and how it can surface more local content relevant to users.
When the iPhone arrived on the scene in 2007, Nokia was the undisputed king of feature phones. BlackBerry was the rising star and staple of email junkies worldwide.
Times have changed.
When Apple’s App Store was announced in 2007, Benjamin Mosse, AP’s director of mobile at the time, shared the stage with Steve Jobs to discuss how people would consume news on their phones. The App Store opened in July of that year with AP Mobile as the first news app available for download.
AP Mobile was a broad initiative conceived at a time when it was still unclear how all of the world’s content could be organized, discovered, consumed and monetized on a few inches of screen real estate. We had a vision that AP could become the absolute news button on phones as an entry point to content from hundreds, if not thousands, of member news sources. Our app was preloaded on a few flagship devices, helping us reach over 14 million app installs, but this strategy never proved sustainable.
AP News offers users a simplified, personalized news feed tailored to their preferences and behavior, with custom news alerts, exposed tags for deeper engagement and greater content discoverability.
Many things have changed over the last nine years. Smartphones are now ubiquitous. iOS and Android are the dominant platforms. Content is everywhere, produced by everyone. Consumption has rapidly shifted from paper to digital, and social media, instant messaging and live video are now all the rage.
With shorter attention spans, user expectations have changed not only in how content is consumed, but in the tolerance level for advertising and page loading. Ad-blocking threatens to destroy billions in advertising revenue for publishers that most desperately need it. All the while, revenue from AP Mobile has been steadily growing. But great challenges lie ahead and we need the tools to address these challenges, create sustainability and seize emerging opportunities.
Last year, we combined various ad-supported products to create a more coherent and consistent consumer-facing advertising strategy. This has been a successful marriage as we work together to build on current platforms and create new revenue streams for AP and our members.
Users in the new app can click member headlines and seamlessly link to member sites, allowing members to monetize this traffic directly.
This summer, we introduced AP News, our new mobile app. It consists of a new iOS app (Apple Watch compatible) and a new Android app (available later this year), and is accompanied by a new website at apnews.com that has the same look, feel and functionality as the apps.
With AP News focused on engagement through the union of storytelling and design, we must ask ourselves: How do we engage users for longer periods of time and bring them back more often? While AP Mobile users are very loyal, how do we find more of them? If we can answer these questions and provide a respectful and useful user experience, the revenue will follow.
The new app offers users a simplified, personalized news feed tailored to their preferences and behavior, with custom news alerts, exposed tags for deeper engagement and greater content discoverability. There are journalistically curated topic hubs and shareable collections and more local AP member content scattered throughout the experience, thereby presenting localized content to an international audience. Users can click member headlines and seamlessly link to member sites, allowing members to monetize this traffic directly.
The apnews.com site will eventually replace bigstory.ap.org to create greater consistency with social media and the apps. It will also drive user acquisition, optimize user experience and maximize advertising returns.
While the site will still primarily serve as a catchall for social media traffic, it is designed to improve overall user engagement and reduce bounce rates. With over 60 percent of Big Story traffic currently coming from mobile devices, AP News was built with a mobile-first, mobile-optimized design that is also compliant with Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages.
AP Mobile will eventually be retired because the code base has become increasingly challenging to maintain, with little opportunity to expand functionality since it is running off a third-party platform.
It will take some time to complete the transition, but until then, stay tuned as we move into an exciting new era with AP’s mobile news capabilities.
Michael is the global director for mobile products for The Associated Press, responsible for strategy, business development, partnerships, product direction and finances for the AP News app.