The Globe and Mail’s new Android tablet app has its origins in a conversation between the national daily’s chief revenue officer, Andrew Saunders, and Samsung Canada’s chief marketing officer, Mark Childs, in August 2013.
Childs, who joined Samsung in July 2013 after spending nearly nine years with the Campbell Company of Canada, is said to have told Saunders that he was “very interested” in seeing the Globe’s content presented on Android tablets—specifically Samsung devices.
“[Childs] wanted Samsung to have leading Canadian content as it works in this market, and we’re obviously very interested in having our content presented on emerging platforms in a very compelling way,” said Angus Frame, the Globe’s vice-president of digital media and technology.
While the new app is available for all Android devices, it is specifically optimized for Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S device. The Globe began the approximately 18-week build process early this year, making the app available to Android users last week.
While the Globe has offered an Android smartphone app and an iOS tablet app since 2011, Frame said those user experiences more closely resemble traditional web browsing. The Android app, he said, is at the “vanguard” of its mobile offering.
“It’s become a very different experience based on the way we’ve seen people behave with tablets and content on tablets,” said Frame. Globe research shows that users spend a “tremendous amount of time” with the iOS app, with peak usage occurring in the morning and evening.
Similarly, the ways in which Android users interact with the new app will inform changes to an upgraded iOS app expected to arrive within the next nine months, said Frame.
The app features articles selected by Globe editors that Frame described as “rich but finite.” Users swipe from side to side to move between sections, and down to read stories within each section. Rather than placing ads adjacent to editorial, the new app features full-screen units interspersed with content.
“We wanted to create an experience that really took advantage of the way people interact with tablets and the capabilities of tablet screens,” said Frame. “Instead of the ads and content competing with each other, each has a chance to get your undivided attention when it occupies the full screen.”
He likened the presentation to that of fashion magazines, where ads are “very much part of the experience. We want it to be a pleasurable experience to scroll through, consume the editorial content and high-impact advertising content, and come away having had a complete experience.”
Frame said Android users tend to skew younger and more female than typical Globe readers, although they retain key audience characteristics in terms of education and income levels. “It’s a really nice way for us to bring the Globe to a group of readers we think will round out our demographics,” said Frame.
The Globe is offering Tab S tablet users complimentary access to the app for 12 months, while other Android tablet users are being given six months of free access. When the trial period expires, the app costs $7.99 per month.