Local News And The Impact of Mobile Technology

Gerard Tollefsen - April 29, 2011

In a recent Pew Internet study, it was revealed that “Nearly half of all American adults (47%) report that they get at least some local news and information on their cellphone or tablet computer.”  I have written multiple blogs over the last few months regarding mobile technology’s impact on search marketing, and this recent examination by the Pew Internet and American Life Project illustrates my strong belief in mobile marketing.

The simple fact that 47% of all American adults disclose they use their smartphone or tablet to get local news and information does not bode well for the traditional print media companies.  Newspapers, for example, can not be happy to see their subscriptions dwindle, and many of them have been late to the party in establishing a prominent online presence.  Even the New York Times, one of the most respected news organizations in the world has struggled with declining paper subscriptions and recently implemented a “pay wall” to help recoup their losses.

While nearly half of all Americans access their mobile phones and tablet computers to get news and local information, it is how they use these digital devices that marketers need to better understand.  Conventional wisdom would lead many to believe that the explosion in the app markets for Android and Apple are driving forces of this migration to mobile devices and news consumption.  However, according to the Pew findings, “Just 13% of all mobile device owners report having an app that helps them get local information or news, which represents 11% of the total American adult population. Thus, while almost half of adults get local news on mobile devices, just 1 in 10 use apps to do so.”  This is an extremely important statistic for anyone looking to take advantage of mobile marketing.  While I believe serving ads within apps will continue to grow, if you want to reach the vast majority of mobile device users, mobile search marketing is the area of focus.

If someone is using their phone to access news and local information, and they are not using installed apps on their phone to do so, it is safe to assume a large majority of those people are conducting searches on their phone’s browser.  Here is where business owners and paid search marketers can take full advantage of a largely untapped market.  Mobile search marketing is still in its infancy stage compared to the maturity of the standard paid search via stand alone computers.  As people migrate to mobile devices, they are carrying over their traditional online habits, such as using Google to find everything from pizza parlors to general contractors.  Now is the time to execute a marketing strategy to position the product or service you promote, to a growing mobile community still relying on search queries to find what they need on the go.

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