Reader is king as new mX app goes native

Reader is king as new mX app goes nativemX publisher Tamara Oppen ahead of the launch of the paper's new app this week. Photo: Eliza Goetze

mX has launched its new, redesigned app, which features live interaction from readers and a purely native advertising strategy.

The “native hybrid’ app features a responsive design allowing users to scroll through “cards” of content optimised for sharing and live commenting.

“Typically when you create an app you think about which sections are popular in the paper,” publisher Tamara Oppen told The Newspaper Works. “Instead, we started with a blank piece of paper and asked if we were to design an app for an 18 to 34 year old audience, what would we have?”

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A key outcome was the decision to focus only on native advertising.

“We know this audience doesn’t like the banners and buttons, they switch them off on their phones,” Ms Oppen said. “Banner ads are going down, search is going up but native is definitely the way forward, particularly with this 18 to 34 audience.”

The masthead will take four commercial partners on board until June, with Jetstar announced as a partner in the Wanderlust travel section and two more partners to be announced next week.

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Being authentic and real with the audience was a priority in mX’s native ad strategy, Ms Oppen said. “If they think you’re selling to them, they’ll switch off, so we’re committed to making sure what we do is engaging and interesting to them, and that way they’ll respond to it.

“I think we can have fun with it – it really lends itself to mX’s style of copy and photo galleries and the way we cover stories.”

Strategically, the paper is moving back to its core DNA as an afternoon pick-me-up, Ms Oppen said.

After a day at work readers just wanted to pick up a paper to make them laugh and break the boredom of the journey. “Killing time waiting for buses and trains is typically a time people would jump onto Facebook – we’re hoping they’ll now jump onto the app,” she said.

Aside from a colourful, clean new design and easy access to news and entertainment that keep commuters informed, a drawcard of the app will be the opportunity for readers to engage with microbrands such as Overheard and Here’s Looking At You – which have a cult following among readers within the larger Talk section – in real time. A company in the UK moderates comments on the posts, which are anonymous, within five minutes so that the posts are essentially live.

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The best posts can then be published in the print product the next day and sometimes the mX team digs a little deeper into the quirkiest tales, providing a 360 story experience where readers are as much a part of the creation of news as the consumption of it.

“We recently had a post about people cleaning in the nude that had a surprisingly huge response on social media, so we tracked down the people who posted about it and interviewed them,” Ms Oppen said.

“That circle is really what we’re excited about encouraging – where will the story go, and where can we bring it back to tomorrow?

“Publishers tend to think ‘once I hit publish, that’s the end of my story’ when really when we hit publish, it’s only the beginning.”

mX readers have also become star contributors in the paper’s new Wanderlust travel section, where reader tips, published in both print and online, provide an intimate and unique feel to each week’s focus on a different destination.

“This is such a micro-community that has grown and blossomed. Our readers actually started our first Facebook page,” Ms Oppen recalled. “They are early adopters, waiting to buy the next Apple watch. We obviously have a great strategy around Facebook, Twitter and Instagram now.”

With social media like an extra limb for the young mX audience, who spend plenty of time voicing their opinions online, the ability to easily share and comment has been built into the card-style layout.

Each card is shareable, created from templates designed in Methode which allows content to be published across platforms immediately, as well as being dynamic and interactive. Readers can tap on them to make them buzz, swipe, spin, with more features to be developed in the coming weeks.

Horoscopes will also appear on the app for the first time, driven by popular demand. “We didn’t have them on the first app and we had 200 people contact us and ask,” Ms Oppen said.

The new app comes off the back of a redesign of the paper based on findings from emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia).

The launch has been supported by a widespread campaign. A wrap on Wednesday’s paper featured special fluoro ink (as shown in the video below) and print ads, internal promotions around the News Corp Australia offices and promotional t-shirts worn by mX sellers used quotes from Overheard to promote the app.

Hear Tamara Oppen talk through mX’s bold print advertising strategy in the clip below.

For more news from The Newspaper Works, click here.

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