Verve: Newspaper Salvation?



I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad.
Howard Beale

People are increasingly using their phones to surf the Web, says the NY Times. Of the 95 million mobile Internet subscribers in the United States, 40 million actively use their phones to go online, twice the number of two years ago, according to Nielsen Mobile.

The mobile web has reached a “critical mass”, reports the BBC.

According to Nielsen Mobile, the US is the most tech savvy nation with nearly 40 million Americans – 16% of all US mobile users – using their handset to browse on the move. The UK and then Italy come a close second and third in the 16 countries surveyed by the analyst firm.

The firm found that 82% of iPhone owners access the mobile internet, “making them five times as likely to do so as the average mobile consumer”. Nielsen Online says the iPhone still trails HTC, RIM and Palm in the smartphone market (likely to change over the next few months), but leads in user satisfaction.

After portal sites and e-mail services, newspaper content — weather, news, politics, city guides, sports and entertainment — is most popular among mobile users.

Verve Wireless believes it can save the dying local newspaper by making it mobile, says The NY Times.

The problem, says Verve, is that local papers do not have the resources, expertise or relationships with cellphone carriers to build mobile sites themselves. Verve does it for them, in exchange for a cut of ad revenue. Verve has developed a number of proprietary applications, including a mobile-ready suite of Vertical Applications, Sponsored Alerts, Classified Advantage and Verve’s Adcel, a local advertising management system.


“Mobile is actually a better way to reach people than print or even Web. It’s versatile, immediate, travels and is just as compelling,” said Mr. Howe, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter and former owner of 50 local papers.

Publishers can upload local ads to their cellphone sites using Verve’s software or have Verve place national ad campaigns on their sites. Verve can deliver a particular ad to, say, people age 21 to 30 who live downtown and have searched for articles about the bar scene. Philadelphia Magazine, for example, sent readers of its Verve-developed Web site a text message offering $4 grapefruit cocktails and half-price appetizers at a local bar.

Mobile companies hope that this kind of ad customization could persuade advertisers to pay more for ads on cellphones than they do for Web ads. So far, few do.

Advertisers will spend only $1.6 billion on mobile ads this year, while spending $26 billion online, predicts eMarketer, a marketing research firm.

Be your own news.

Boulder’s Daily Camera (mobile edition) has a simple, effective layout.

Start with three things:

  • TenbyTen. A great user interface. Put pictures on the small screen, mouse over for more info, and click to play.
  • SoundSlides. The audio determines the length of flash slide show (examples). Don’t read the small print. Listen and watch. Be Ken Burns.
  • Location-based advertising. Open source projects like Funambol deliver the goods.

How hard could it be? Stream events live and network correspondents. Bingo.

Flash on phones has been limited. But more handset makers will likely include it because phones now have the processing power, memory and battery capabilities to run it and Adobe has removed its licensing fees, making Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR free for device manufacturers.

There are lots of innovative News Maps such as Newsmapr, Reuter’s News Maps and 10×10 (above). Mobilize it on a Nokia N810, iPhone, Android, LiMO or Symbian platform. Throw in lots of social networking, customization and user interactivity.

Related DailyWireless Newspaper articles include; Location Apps: Here. Now., Open Warfare at OsCon, Qik Goes Live — Everywhere, Interactive Journalism Awards, Newspaper Circulation Down, CNN’s News Bureau in a Bus, Washington Post Tech Videos, Nokia N810, Gannett Mobilizes News, Web 2.0 News Maps, E-Books Now, Open Ads, Wireless News Stand, Calacanis on Newspapers, Advertising: The Right Online/Print Mix, One Laptop: 2.0, River of News, BBCiPlayer on iPhone, Camphones For Journalists, Freeview Goes HD, and BBC: Free WiFi on The Cloud.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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