Mobile may be the buzzword on every publisher’s lips, but new insights show that print brands are still failing to cater for smartphone and tablet readers with their clunky websites.

Tests conducted on the UK’s top print media publications show that nearly half of their websites fail to make the grade when it comes to displaying effectively on handheld devices.

This may be costing each company small fortunes in lost advertising revenue, and brands are now being urged to ensure their domains are optimised for mobile use.

New tests

Conducted by ad platform Vibrant Media in an attempt to see how many publications were ready to monetise their mobile traffic, the Mobile Advertising Readiness Survey shows that just 45% of print-based titles have websites that render effectively on scaled-down screens.

While this marks a significant improvement on the 68% that said the same in 2013, the results suggest there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Some publications were found to be all prepped for life on a handheld, namely the eight in ten daily news sites (80%) that passed Vibrant Media’s mobile test.  

The same could not be said for monthly women’s titles, as 62.5% of their websites were found to be performing poorly on mobile.

Revenue, rankings and readership

While a loss of potential ad earnings is highlighted by Vibrant Media, the company says there are two other primary motivations for brands to fine-tune their mobile sites.

Speaking in light of the study, Fiona Salmon, publishing solutions director at Vibrant, said companies should be fearful of a drop in their search rankings as Google prepares to change its algorithm to reward good mobile sites.

Not only this, she states that consumers are growing increasingly frustrated at not being able to work their way around bad websites, and they have now come to expect a good mobile experience.

“That impacts how the consumer feels about the media title’s entire brand, impacting the perception of the print and desktop experience too,” Salmon added.

Vibrant’s tests were conducted using an iPhone 4, with effective display judged by a site’s ability to appear fully legible in the average user’s eye.