Under normal circumstances, Axios is still weeks away from releasing its app. The more time to beta test, the better. But with COVID-19 striking across the U.S., the political and news media company pushed up the timeline, and today the app—for iOS users—goes live.
“We saw a real need in the market for this. We didn’t want to wait. People need it now,” said Axios chief product officer Mike Berkley.
Building a publisher app in 2020 looks very different than the early days, when media companies hired consultants to determine which path—mobile website or app—paved the way to riches. For Axios, building an app gives it yet another chance for a revenue stream, serving as a way for additional advertisers to get on board beyond the email newsletter sponsorships that have been the anchor of its business.
From its start, the company has continued to add products off its initial concept. What started out just about four years ago as an alternative to what Jim VandeHei, the founder and CEO, called the “crap trap” (i.e., the race for pageviews), Axios has added to its arsenal various content delivery mechanisms, from newsletter to events to website, and now app.
The app will let users sort their feeds and showcase “channels,” largely modeled after Axios’ newsletters, like AM/PM, Future and Trends. Additional topics will also include those like coronavirus or top news.
This means additional ad offerings. The app gives Axios a chance to sell native advertising in its feed, based on impressions, and sponsorship deals for those channels that are not associated with email newsletters, like top news. The app goes live today with Facebook as a launch partner.
“There’s an opportunity to reach an entirely different audience on an app versus a website,” said Chris Dessi, vp, Americas and Australia for Productsup, a SaaS company for content integration, who was briefed on the app. “However, companies will need to ensure their content is suited for an app experience versus an online experience while keeping consistent messaging across all of their advertising channels.”
The app has been in beta since mid-February, but Axios execs noticed a real uptick in traffic (as many publishers have) surrounding the coronavirus, and decided to move up the app’s wider introduction.
Since most of its readers (75% of web traffic) come from mobile, Berkley said now is a good moment to release the app into the wild.
“Without having a native mobile app, it’s difficult for people to stay on top of Axios throughout the day outside of the newsletters in the morning,” he added.
It will also offer app-exclusive quips from Axios reporters, like an extended reporter’s notebook, in part to try and provide a “personal connection” to readers, Berkley said.