Objectives and Methods
In this guide, we explore the critical role chat apps can play in the distribution of digital journalism today and in the years ahead. As mobile traffic and referrals from social platforms continue to grow for the majority of news organizations, chat apps present a profound opportunity for audience development and engagement.
According to Pew Research Center's “State of the News Media 2015” report, 78 percent of the top 50 digital news websites receive more visits from mobile devices than desktop computers. And analytics firm Parse.ly, which delivers audience insights to over 400 news organizations including Wired, The Atlantic, and Reuters, claims 43 percent of referrals to its publisher network now come from social media (outpacing search at 38 percent).
Messaging has emerged as the new frontier of social on mobile, and the sheer size of audiences on the top global chat apps is too big to ignore. These apps also present an opportunity to diversify mobile traffic sources and to minimize vulnerability should Facebook or other platforms decrease traffic for publishers.
For our research, we conducted interviews with leadership at numerous major messaging app companies, as well as early-adopter news organizations. We selected companies and case studies that demonstrate the diversity of opportunities within the ecosystem, while also highlighting the uniqueness of each chat app platform.
While publishers generally indicated optimism and excitement for their work on chat apps, nearly all pointed out that as an industry we are still in an early, exploratory phase. Most major chat apps spent the last few years perfecting their user experience, only recently turning their attention to media-owner partnerships. With that in mind, we urge readers to not only learn from the case studies presented, but also to initiate experiments of their own to find the right strategy for any editorial team.