Apps vs. Mobile: A Publisher’s Guide To Reaping ROI

As a publisher, you’ve most likely already determined that the future of your company will depend on how well you cater to people who use mobile devices to get most of their information. From your archive of publications waiting to be set free from their storage as portable document files to the new content that you want to distribute now without relying on PDFs, there is a lot of information to liberate for mobile users.

The main question to address first and foremost is whether to invest in a branded app to distribute your content or go with a mobile-first browser edition for your publication.

Which method gives you the better return on investment? There are pros and cons to both approaches, so it’s of paramount importance that you understand the difference between both.

Should I Develop a Mobile Web Edition or a Native App?

Here are five points to consider when making your decision:

mobile_platformOnline Presence

You do not currently have a mobile device-optimized edition and you want to use one as a foundation for a strong mobile presence. In this case, the mobile web edition is best for you. If you already have a strong mobile presence and now want to expand your content into new channels, a native app is a better approach.

Content Control

With a mobile web edition, you can control how people access content and it is easier to monetize the material. It’s always updated with the latest version. However, if you want people to be able to read content offline, they’ll need to save it on their device through your app.


You have two options here. By choosing the mobile web edition route, you ensure that your branding will be seen by the widest amount of people, namely everyone who accesses you via the web.

If you decide to develop an app, you enjoy the benefit of your brand always residing on people’s mobile devices (the icon of your app on the home screen always being visible).

Ease of Access

How easy do you want to make it for people to access your published material? Your content is instantly available with no requirement of the reader to make a commitment or do any setup work before getting to read when it’s published through a mobile web edition.

Keep in mind that if you want to present your content through an app, the end user must first download the app to their device and then sign up for a subscription. A benefit here is that you get more control over your content when you confine it to the app and the revenue stream is something your company can rely on.


With a mobile web edition, your material is accessible on multiple platforms and devices. Any modern web browser on an Android, iOS or Windows mobile device will do.

This is convenient and you don’t have to force your readers to commit to one brand of phone over another. However, a benefit of setting up a native app is that your mobile edition can use a particular device’s native functionality.

As you can see, choosing between a mobile web edition or a native app to distribute your content involves a number of variables, including sticking to one platform or enabling multi-platform capability. You need to consider how you want to optimize your online presence as well as control access to content. At the same time, your branding will be influenced by whether you go with an app or the mobile web route.