Beizer launched The Post’s first iPad app and has worked on every mobile product the company has developed since. She is currently leading the initiative to create a new suite of products geared toward national and international audiences. Beizer will speak at the Mobile News Summit on 6 October in Hamburg about wearables and mobile strategies. Here she shares some lessons learned on the Apple Watch project.
WAN-IFRA: At The Post you have bet on the success of the Apple Watch. How do you distinguish the hype from real opportunities for publishers?
Julia Beizer: We evaluate new opportunities on a couple of different dimensions. Will the project provide us an innovative way to tell stories? Will it give us experience with a new technology? Will it provide scale? When we made the decision to build for Apple Watch, it was clear we’d hit the first two goals. We made a bet, based on Apple’s impressive track record, that we’d probably hit the last one as well. But the key is that, even if we didn’t, we’d be achieving two other goals that are important to us. The Apple Watch project gave us an opportunity to keep pushing forward with both new story forms and new technologies.
What are the three most surprising findings from users after the first months of The Post’s Apple Watch app?
We knew our push notifications would be the biggest hit with Apple Watch users and that has been borne out. That’s definitely something we plan to expand considerably, with greater customisation for users.
We took a big bet on visual storytelling for this project, investing in a regular feature for our Apple Watch app we call Big Story, Small Screen. For that feature, we turn a largely text story into an infographic that can be digested in six swipes. Readers who come to our watch app use this feature more than the real-time story feed we offer. And when they do go into this story, they flick all the way to the end.
Can we already talk about “watch-first journalism” at The Post?
When we talk about efforts like the watch, we talk about them in the broader context of what we call “adaptive journalism.” It’s cost-effective to take a feed of text content and distribute it across as many platforms as possible. But we believe that doesn’t serve readers as well as applications that are built natively for the platform on which a reader is using them. When we choose to invest in a platform, we put a lot of effort into making sure our content, our product experiences and our technology are built for the way a reader expects to use them within that environment.
This post is part of a series of interviews and articles leading up to Mobile News Summit (#MNS15), which will take place on October 6 in Hamburg, Germany. #MNS15 is part of the World Publishing Expo 2015 – the largest annual global trade exhibition for the news publishing and media industry.