One key to attracting younger readers may be through creating useful utility apps
Apps that are opened on a daily basis, such as when shopping or navigating a space, often stand a better chance of being downloaded and installed than apps that only promise to deliver content once a month
The growth in apps, some believe, is slowing. Just how many apps can you have on your phone, after all, that you actually use. This is a problem for publishers who feel they really haven’t gotten into the app game, but now feel they may be too late. (Hey, I said five years ago that… oh, never mind.)
So, how do you get the attention of those downloading apps? The answer may be to stop concentrating only on entertaining users with editorial content, and consider whether the new app is useful.
OU Libraries NavApp is from the University of Oklahoma, and its purpose is to provide location-based information, as well as push notifications. I presume it will be an automatic download for any new student this fall.
From the app description:
The library-based pilot program will pave the way for a campus wide implementation of this cutting edge technology. The launch of the OU Libraries NavApp coincides with the opening of the Galileo’s World exhibition, and showcases content from several partner galleries/exhibitions across the Norman campus.
Beyond innovative “indoor GPS” functionality, the tool provides:
- One-click contact with service desks, branch libraries, and special collections
- Technology how-to guides and tutorials -Turn-by-turn directions to services and resources in Bizzell Memorial Library
- Integration with libraries.ou.edu
- Enhanced content to featured exhibitions and facilities (visitor center, student union, etc.) in Bizzell and around campus
The university already has a whole series of apps students can download including OUBound that is specifically designed for new students. Stanford, as you can imagine, as double the number of apps (that is not intended as a knock on OU!). UC Berkeley has only a couple (always behind Stanford, for shame).
Most major universities assume entering students have smartphones, just as a few years ago they began to assume students would enter with a laptop. These are the people publishers need to reach with their apps, the digital natives. So much emphasis has been on moving people from print to digital that many publishers are missing the best demographic for their digital efforts may be new, younger readers not loyal print readers.
This is one reason I am constantly amazed when I read that there has been yet another study that purports to show magazine and newspaper readers prefer print over digital. First, they often don’t say that, only say that readers already familiar with print publications want their digital publications to look like print. It’s not the same as saying they want them to replicate print.
But further, those who are not already reading newspapers and magazines are often excluded from the surveys, as if a whole generation of potential readers aren’t of interest. That an 18 year old might not be interested in Better Homes and Gardens should surprise no one. But they may be in the future, assuming it is delivered in a way they feel comfortable reading it – and not the way a 50-year-old said was best.
But there is another area for publishers to pursue younger readers, and that is through apps that they find useful. The apps from universities are one example; shopping apps are another. There is at least one magazine publisher I know that is pursing shopping apps as a way of tapping into the huge market for advertising tied to retailers. I also know of a few that just don’t seem to understand the space. This will have consequences as advertising is not only moving towards mobile platforms, they are moving to the kinds of mobile apps that device owners use regularly. In other words, your print ad is not moving to a mobile digital edition or mobile website ad, it may be moving inside apps that directly drive sales for the retailer and their brands.
I am not sure I am articulating my argument effectively just yet, but I’m sure that as the months go by I will have more opportunities to do so again.
Here is the announcement Aruba Networks, an HP company, which has its technology featured in the new app:
The University of Oklahoma Libraries Launches NavApp to Provide Indoor Navigation and Content for Students, Faculty and Visitors;
Delivers App for More Than One Million Visits Annually
Mobile App Using Aruba Beacons and Meridian App Platform, DeliversTurn-by-Turn Navigation
and Collaborative Content for the OU Libraries, Exhibits and Other Norman Campus Landmarks
SUNNYVALE, Calif. – August 25, 2015 – Aruba Networks, an HP company, (NYSE: HPQ) today announced that the University of Oklahoma (OU) has deployed Aruba Beacons and the Aruba Meridian Mobile App Platform to deliver a new mobile app for students, faculty and visitors. The OU NavApp provides navigation and location-based and educational content for more than one million visits annually.
Following a successful proof of concept in the library’s Peggy V. Helmerich Collaborative Learning Center – a unique and popular technology space OU created – the University decided to expand its deployment to its entire seven-floor, 400,000 square foot OU Libraries system as well as other highly-visited attractions on campus including The National Weather Center, Fred Jones Museum and Sam Noble Natural History Museum.
The OU Libraries is the largest research library in the state of Oklahoma, has been featured in U.S. News & World Report as one of the most beautiful, historic campus libraries in the country and is renowned for its rich portfolio of historical books and special history of science collections. In addition to providing traditional library services to students and faculty, OU’s Bizzell Memorial Library is the site of a Galileo’s World exhibit that begins August 2015 and runs through 2016. The OU Bizzell Library was chosen to host this exhibit, as it possesses a complete and rare set of first edition Galileo publications from 16th century Italy, some of which even contain Galileo’s own handwriting in the margins.
With its extensive collections including 17,000 linear feet of manuscripts and archives, more than one million photographs and more than a million maps, as well as its unique collaborative learning center, the OU Libraries is a popular destination for students, faculty and visitors. However, as Matthew Cook, Emerging Technologies Librarian for OU explained, it can be complicated to navigate.
“It’s an intimidating building, especially for first-time users, which are many of our incoming freshmen, and it’s a bit obscure. The resources and services are not immediately apparent when you walk in the front door,” Cook said. “With the beacons and mobile app, we can now leverage the technology that’s already in our freshmen’s pockets – their mobile devices – to combine the offline and online experience and guide them between resources. Essentially, these solutions let us tap into and better serve the needs of this growing #GenMobile generation of user.”
OU deployed Aruba Beacons and used the Meridian Mobile App Platform to design their interactive, feature-rich NavApp, which is available for both Android and iOS. Cook explained that when users who have downloaded the app enter the OU Libraries system, their experience is truly transformed. The app is organized by type of user – student, faculty or visitor – so that users can quickly and easily find the information and resources most relevant to them.
The app provides a map and turn-by-turn navigation for every publicly accessible area along with all of the physical resources, so users can easily find their way through the buildings and locate resources, gallery exhibits, restrooms and elevators. Cook noted that OU relies on the accessibility features built into the Meridian Mobile App Platform so they can provide users with disabilities the easiest route to elevators, for example, or during a storm, guide students using the library to the safest location. Said Cook, “Beyond the obvious convenience and efficiency the app brings our users, there’s a safety and security element as well.”
“We have the content in place and the navigation is working beautifully,” said Cook. “Now we need to monitor the number of users downloading the app to determine how successful it is, ultimately, and how much further we can expand the deployment.”