Mobile Station Stories: Thomas Broadus, MPB

by Rachel Lim, PBS Station Products & Innovation

As part of the launch of the Mobile White Label Series for Stations (available in SRC, login required), we are profiling mobile efforts at stations throughout the system on a variety of topics, ranging from mobile giving to the differences between mobile Web and mobile apps. Over the next six weeks, these stations, who are part of the Station Mobile Working Group, share their experiences, plans, successes and lessons learned about mobile.

This week, we're chatting with Web Administrator Thomas Broadus about Mississippi Public Broadcasting's early experimentation in mobile.

Thomas Broadus, MPB
MPB is currently releasing a mobile Web browser that offers easy access to schedules, live listening and the home page. They are also working on a radio app for MPB.

What motivated you to pursue mobile, and how did you develop your initial mobile strategy?
The growth of the mobile market is as vital to the lifeblood of our agency as our traditional website.  At this point we had to infuse the way audiences are reaching our website into a plan on how to make that experience useful to them, instead of a hindrance.  When I talk to people about mobile web, I ask them how many of them have a mobile website, and a few of them will raise their hand; but when I ask them who has a website, they all do.  The rub is that we all then have a mobile website, the difference is are we creating an intentional experience for our mobile users.  Our strategy was born out of needing to create an intentional experience for mobile users.

What were your initial goals for mobile, and how have they changed over time?
Our initial goals are pretty basic. We wanted to launch the new website, add the mobile access layer after launch – allowing easy access to TV schedules, live listening, and the home page, and complete the radio app currently in wireframe development.

I strongly recommend mobile web for stations without budgets for digital initiatives.  You can make something accessible to all mobile devices without concern of platform cross pollination, it’s much cheaper and you don’t have to worry about the rating system.  Is your station going to be happy investing thousands of dollars, produce an app and let it sit in the app store with one, one and a half or two stars?

What sold me on our app is the ability an app has that isn’t available on mobile web – location based services.  We will be able to push location based emergency weather information and this will be awesome as we cover an entire state.

What kind of results have you seen so far, and how does it affect your future plans for mobile?
We don’t have any results so far but I do know that our current mobile traffic ranges from 1-3% of total unique visitors and this is an area we know has room for exponential growth.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first approached mobile?
Other station success stories and pitfalls.

How have your audience needs influenced your approach to mobile?
We have data that’s about 2 years old that shows half of Mississippi does not have broadband access at home, they are accessing through work, and their phones.  We need to capitalize on this and provide a better format for those connecting to us primarily through their mobile devices.

Why is mobile an important market for your station to move into?
Lifeblood: we have to.  We want to be relevant to our users and the same way tv transitioned from black and white to color to digital, we have to be fluid enough to transition from web 1.0 to web 2.0 to mobile.

If you'd like to learn more about Thomas and MPB, be sure to follow him on Twitter at @TbroOnline.

Stay tuned for next week as we travel to San Diego, CA, to check in with the folks at KPBS.

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