With publishers serving more and more of their audience through mobile and tablet devices, it's no surprise that responsive designs are growing in popularity.

From the BBC and Guardian to Metro and Express & Star, the number of publishers jumping on the responsive design bandwagon is growing rapidly and for good reason: there's a lot to like about responsive design and done right, it's pretty compelling.

Now, one of the biggest names in digital publishing in the U.S., AOL, is getting behind responsive design, and in a big way.

According to AdAge, AOL is planning to redesign all of its content destinations in an effort to bolster the company's ad sales and serving process.

At CES, AOL's president of technology and entertainment, Jay Kirsch, explained that the company's responsive redesigns for Engadget and Games.com have given the company the opportunity to serve up mobile-friendly ads that appear while users scroll, disappearing after a short period. The benefit: CTRs three times higher.

The new normal?

AOL's plans reflect a fundamental shift in the digital publishing landscape. The desktop, while still important, isn't the only game in town and with high levels of mobile and tablet usage here to stay, publishers must figure out how to serve an audience in ways that scale across devices with varying screen sizes.

Responsive design, of course, isn't the only option. Publishers may still have reason to look at native apps and separate mobile sites. But from a user experience perspective, having a single site that adapts to the user's device makes a lot of sense.

For publishers looking to develop and execute on mobile and tablet publishing strategies, the big question is if and when to make the investment. One would have to assume that AOL's responsive design initiative isn't cheap -- and it certainly isn't without risk -- but one must also assume that publishers wanting to succeed in this brave new world can't do nothing forever.

Patricio Robles

Published 10 January, 2013 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (2)


Robert McWhirter

2013 will no doubt see a battle for mobile design business between digital agencies. As you say, a number of big brand websites have already implemented a mobile centric strategy in 2012, and one can only see other brands following suit in the coming year.

Responsive design, native app, mobile specific - each has their advantages and disadvantages, but it will be interesting to see if we see one of these on top by the time the year is out.

over 5 years ago

Peter  Bradley

Peter Bradley, Head of Digital at Digital Media Managers

At Digital Media Managers Bedford have recently been highlighting to our clients the importance of mobile/tablet, though some are still on the fence. As Robert McWhirter surmises most will wait (investment wise) and see who comes out on top at the end of the year.

Our thoughts steer more toward the significant minority approach PC's will still dominate sales but an anticipated 200 million tablets sales in 2013, responsive is the technology IF your site is being revamped this year.

With 3 behemoths in the mobile/tablet fray for 2013 Apple (iOS), Google (Android) and Microsoft (Windows 8) you could spend a lot on a mobile site, a tablet site and a PC site to find wasted budget and jaundiced stakeholders.

IF you need a new site 'Go responsive!', get good web analytics in place and see where the juice is worth the squeeze. With the increasing growth in touch screen and the next couple of years either devices or browsers and user demand will show you the way.

over 5 years ago

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