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StepLeader: Local Mobile News Usage Surges During Hurricane Sandy and Election Night Coverage

StepLeader Digital, a digital solutions provider that delivers information across mobile technology, OTT/Smart TV applications and more, blazed past previous mobile usage records during coverage of Hurricane Sandy and Election Night.

The company’s local news partners experienced unprecedented traffic levels during the days surrounding Hurricane Sandy. The superstorm nearly doubled mobile page views on mobile apps and websites compared to average daily usage as users connected to their trusted local news source via mobile devices.

On October 29, the day Hurricane Sandy made landfall, StepLeader local broadcast partner, WMAR-TV (Baltimore), experienced a 522 percent increase in mobile page view traffic compared to an average day.

Dustin Wadsworth, WMAR-TV director of new media, shared, “We just said that this was going to be a social and mobile event. That was our strategy going in.”

“We were expecting massive power outages, and we knew that we were the only game in town with a mobile live stream,” Wadsworth said. “We were telling people that this app is part of your hurricane preparedness.”

“What we know is that during storms, people lose power and that is why mobile is so important,” said Rich Murphy, MyFoxDC (Fox 5) senior web producer. “As a web department and TV station, we need to be sure that the information is displayed as well on mobile as it is online.”

MyFoxDC worked with StepLeader prior to the hurricane to develop a special page with links to local power companies so users could easily access information they needed on their mobile devices.

Election Day traffic doubles

November 6 now ranks as the fourth highest day in terms of page views for StepLeader, following three days last week that were dominated by round-the-clock coverage of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.

“Election Day traffic was nearly double a normal day’s traffic; although, we haven’t seen a normal day in over a week due to Sandy,” said Tom Rouillard, StepLeader’s vice president of product strategy. “The peak hour for our local news partners was 10 PM ET.”

The 2010 elections were the first major elections since the company (then known as News Over Wireless) launched the first iPhone app for a local TV news station (December 2008). Rouillard said, “Our partners’ mobile page views this Election Day were up by more than 349 percent compared to 2010, which exemplifies tremendous growth in mobile traffic.”

More than 60 StepLeader partners set up mobile election results in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

“Our mobile page views on Election Day were three times what we see in a normal day,” said John Conway, WRAL.com general manager.

StepLeader helped contribute to WRAL’s stellar results by providing strategic input on how best to optimize election-related content for maximum user engagement and interactivity. Upon entering WRAL.com’s mobile news apps and website, the first item was an “Election Results” folder. The folder included “Latest Returns” which provided tabular data. The “Interactive Results Map” took users to a map developed by the AP. “Video Central” provided relevant live feeds from WRAL and CBS.

“We expected to capture a significant amount of traffic on mobile phones and tablets,” said Conway. “Our website traffic peaked during the workday, while mobile and tablet usage peaked in the evening when election results start coming in.”

“We were able to use StepLeader to present the best of our online election coverage on a mobile app with little effort,” said Kyle Geissler, Channel3000.com‘s managing editor. “Our users could get race results and updated video with ease.”

According to MyFoxDC’s Rich Murphy, “The big thing for us on Election Night is that people want to know the numbers. We placed the results very high in the mobile application so they were very prevalent.”

Live video and push notifications drive mobile news usage

Live streaming video and push notifications also contributed to increased mobile performance during these major news events. StepLeader partners delivered hundreds of thousands of live video streams and push notifications, sent via iOS and Android apps, reached nearly 11 million devices.

These two events, just eight days apart, highlight the rise of the U.S. as a “mobile nation,” where nearly everyone is connected at all times to their trusted news provider by apps, mobile web sites and push notifications.

About StepLeader

Founded in 2005, StepLeader builds innovative digital solutions to help publishers and advertisers create new revenue opportunities in an ever-changing environment of mobile technology, Smart TV applications and more. StepLeader helps publishers create a wide breadth of revenue opportunities across multiple mobile platforms, and helps advertisers extend their reach to more consumers with the most trusted local content from the largest network of premium partners. The company has helped develop and launch more than 107 live mobile apps and serves more than 200 million ads monthly. StepLeader has a proven track record of delivering ROI for its more than 300 partners, including Scripps Television Station Group, Fox Television Stations, LIN Media, Morgan Murphy Media, and News-Press & Gazette Company (NPG).

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