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How Forbes got readers to double the time spent per post on mobile

For most news publishers, their audiences increasingly prefer visiting them on mobile devicesAs comScore found, mobile eats up 65 percent of digital media time. But many publishers have lagged in reshaping desktop news for mobile sites.

Forbes, which usually sees half its traffic coming to it this way in any given month, felt the problem firsthand. “The industry’s just shrunk to fit the phone,” said Lewis D’Vorkin, chief product officer at Forbes. “It was a traditional storytelling format for a device that requires a more visual storytelling format. Mobile audiences in my mind want a different kind of experience.”

So six months ago, D’Vorkin decided to come up with a new way to present news for the mobile web. Forbes, no stranger to reinvention, having been early in letting outside contributors and advertisers publish alongside its own journalists, created card-like formats to replace text-based stories. Forbes tested this new format with 26 articles.

The result? For new mobile articles, users averaged 2 minutes on the new version versus 1 minute on the old mobile one, with some articles showing a 10 times increase in time spent.

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