DME14: How mobile fits into FT’s digital strategy

“I am not here to talk about ‘mobile first.’ I am here to talk about a digital strategy that incorporates the strengths of mobile into a universal digital strategy,” said Lisa MacLeod, head of operations for

by WAN-IFRA Staff | April 8, 2014

MacLeod, a former Managing Editor of the Financial Times, now oversees the operational aspects of moving the Financial Times to a true digital first environment, and discussed some of the digital challenges today, particularly on mobile.

“I have been at the FT for 11 years,” she told participants at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Europe event in London. “The FT is 126 years old. I’ve seen more change in the last 10 years than we did in the first 116. It’s been fast, fascinating, challenging and exciting.”

The new reality

MacLeod said the FT now has 200,000 more digital subscriptions than print, and mobile is playing a big part of that trend.

Vincent Peyregne@vincentpeyregne

What mobile means for the FT? 62% of subscriber consumption, 45% of  traffic, 20% yoy ad growth @lisataljard

See Vincent Peyregne’s other Tweets

“The rise of mobile traffic and content makes us wonder about what will happen with desktop,” she said. “In many parts of the world, they will never, never experience the desktop, instead they are or will access their content via mobile.”


“The desktop is quickly becoming the new print” Liza MacLeod (Head of Operations, 

See Twipe’s other Tweets

She said mobile creates numerous challenges, such as trying to deliver the same content to all the different devices.

“You can thank tablets and mobiles for the changing consumption patterns which have created a big challenge of resourcing and content distribution. We had to rethink our content planning, scheduling and distribution of our content.”

Getting around the App Store

FT chose to go to an HTML5 app and came out of the Apple Store to get around Apple’s new conditions and to own direct consumer relations, both B2B and B2C, she said. It has resulted in 4 million users on the HTML5 app, much more than we had on the previous native app.

Emma Goodman@Emmamagoodman

We redesigned our swipe technology on @FT‘s HTML5 app and saw a 33% increase in amount of content consumed @lisataljard

See Emma Goodman’s other Tweets


Universal Publishng

FT’s technology strategy is now centred on a “Universal Publishing” concept. This means, she said:

  • Making: Creating the right tools, making the right things and making the process efficient
  • Managing: Organised assets, customer data and good metadata
  • Exposing: Stop binding to platforms, use APIs for services, make content easy to access and use. MacLeod shared some of the different solutions and developments in the works, including FT teaming up with Samsung for a Smart TV app, with Mercedes for a text-to-voice car app, an FT Weekend app, a redesigned Android app, and work on a new responsive design platform.

Advertising on mobile: the challenges

Some of the challenges, she said, the FT and others face with mobile advertising include:

  • Price: too cheap, too much inventory
  • Heritage: unfamiliarity of the mobile channel, making it difficult to sell
  • Creative issues: “I was at a conference last week and found out that “fat fingers (clicks)” create about 50 percent of mobile ad clicks.”
  • Measurability: difficult to measure
  • Experience: quite simply, users don’t like interrupted experience.
  • Technical difficulties: hard to manage all the different platforms. “At one point, we were asking an advertiser who wanted to go across all of our platforms and we were asking for 18 different creatives… daunting.”

Banking on mobile advertising: some relief

She said there is good news as well, including:

  • Ensure parity on analysis tools. HTML5 makes this possible… and this is helpful for advertisers. Building tablet and print: tablet is worth paying for, and advertisers like the print-like formats (easier sell than smartphones).
  • Helping advertisers with their creatives: “We have actually set up a small studio to help them set up their creatives to break down some barriers for entry, and we can build that into the price.”

Follow the conference on Twitter at #DME14


Share via
Copy link