E-marketing Strategy: Content Consumption is Moving Beyond the Web Browser

J.S. McDougall

Seven ideas for preparing your content for the "lean-back" world.

Here’s your strategy landmine for the day: The web browser is dying off.

It may be difficult to fathom, but in a few years, no program we use on our tablets, phones or computers will resemble the web browsers we’re using today. Digital services, social platforms and most importantly, digital content are all steadily migrating away from the web browser and into the world of apps. This means that your content must be ready for its migration into the most popular content-consumption apps of the day—Zite, Currents, Pulse and Flipboard. Today we’ll explore what that means for you, the content publisher, and how you can make sure you’re ready for the transition.

The Reasons for the Migration to Mobile

“Mobile” may not be the best term to use when we’re talking about tablets, phones and e-readers. No longer are these devices used as a degraded desktop-replacement while on the road or away from the office. These devices are becoming so stunning and powerful that, in some cases, these so-called “lean-back devices” are doing a far better job than a desktop computer. And therefore, they’re not so much “mobile devices” anymore, but rather the default devices for content consumption. But, since “mobile” is the term we’re still using at the moment, I’ll go with it.

Now, despite the fact that I’m a web developer at my core and that I have a geeky love-affair with my desk, iMac, jQuery and WordPress—the classic “lean-forward” environment—I can see that this migration away from the desktop and web browser is happening for good reasons:

1. First, and most importantly, the act of content consumption is migrating to devices that have been specifically designed for consumption—as opposed to desktop and notebook computers which were originally designed for content creation. The rise of tablets, e-readers and smartphones with impressive speakers and bright colorful screens has changed the way people “surf.” People are no longer plunking down in their desk chair to browse the headlines and read their email. Folks now prefer to plunk down on the softer surfaces in their house as the computer is no longer necessary for surfing—the at-hand hand-held devices are just as good, and often better, at presenting content.

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  • Thad McIlroy

    It says on your web site that "At 5pm on May 31st, 2012, Catalyst Webworks closed its doors."

  • Dave Bricker

    What you suggest is that all content will move to proprietary channels that require content developers to pay 30% to app stores. Actually, the browser is evolving at a fantastic pace. Adobe is rapidly contributing large chunks of the flash player code base to webkit, the basis for mobile browsers; the user interface gap is closing. Mobile web browsers can already deliver a better reading experience than eReaders. Apple bought themselves a few years of market leadership by blocking flash, but the back door is wide open to innovators. As for casually dismissing the web as "full of advertising," some sites are and some aren’t. Plenty of apps are just as cluttered. As a forward-thinking designer and developer, I’ll be betting on the browser. The argument that app stores and eBookstores are at risk of irrelevancy is just as compelling. When content publishers can deliver rich, interactive content without having to pay a gatekeeper, I can’t believe they’ll continue to bend over.