Saturday, October 19, 2013

Moving Up With the Mobile App

In the past 30 days, news (Channel 1) and opinion (Channel 2) have been the most popular choices for visitors to The Orion mobile app site.
Keaton Bass, Quinn Western and I got an update Thursday from iCampusTimes CEO Tim Roberts about new features coming to The Orion's mobile app.

We learned that users will soon be able to call up a campus map on their phone, redeem digital coupons with the swipe of a finger and get push notices for breaking news, among other services. Students who click on an ad inside the app will be able to see an advertiser's website and even call the business with a single finger tap!

I can't help it: I get excited when I see the possibilities of mobile for the paper. More and more of the audience for news and information is headed for phones and tablets, and The Orion is in the vanguard of college newspapers making the transition.

Slightly more than 1,500 people have downloaded the app since its launch last year, about 500 in the past two months thanks in large part to the paper's PR team of Rachael DiCicco, Nabila Larohl, Amanda Locke and Megan Vanderford. They're hoping their latest promotion -- a raffle for a free iPad -- will push the download number over 3,000 yet this semester.

As the app audience grows, the ad staff will be able to add dollars from mobile ad sales to the revenue that comes now from selling ads in the paper-and-ink Orion. That will help make the paper greener in two ways: improve its financial bottom line and allow it to print fewer physical papers in the future.

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