Axios has launched its first native app,
a few weeks ahead of schedule to meet reader demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The app is free to use, with no log-in required, and continually updated. (Axios newsletter subscribers will soon be able to log in with their email to pre-populate the app’s feed with the topics they already follow.)
Topics in the app are organized into more than 20 “channels,” curated by Axios journalists. Most are built off of popular Axios newsletters, such as “AM/PM,” “Future” and “Media Trends.” Other channels are new, such as “Top Stories” and “Coronavirus.”
“There is a real surge right now in demand for news apps, driven by the coronavirus,” Mike Berkley, Axios’ Chief Product Officer, told the press in a call. “We saw a real need in the market for this.”
Berkley noted that 75% of Axios’ web traffic comes from mobile devices and 5% from tablets.
“So much of our audience is on mobile right now. Without a native mobile app, it’s difficult for people to stay on top of Axios throughout the day, outside of the newsletters,” he said.
While Axios has built its business around email newsletters, “there’s some deficiencies” in the format, Berkley said. Readers cannot consume video or audio in an email newsletter, and newsletters cannot be updated once they are sent to inboxes. “The app is a much more immersive experience in terms of watching, listening and reading,” he said.
A beta test was launched in mid-February. Feedback from users was incorporated into the product. The format makes it easier for subscribers of over three newsletters to get all the information in one place, Marcus Moretti, lead product manager on the app, told the press.
It also creates additional opportunities for advertisers. The app is "purely additive" for brands sponsoring any of Axios’ newsletters — those campaigns will be featured within the newsletter’s channel on the app, Berkley said.
Axios is also selling app-specific placements. For example, brands can buy impressions and sponsor the app feed or non-newsletter based channels like "Top News."
The app serves push notifications for breaking news, and also works offline. It supports iOS’ dark mode — one of the most popular feature requests from beta testers, Berkley noted. It displays scoops, recommendations and “thought bubbles” from Axios journalists as well. Those “thoughts” are exclusive to the app, in a Twitter-like format.
Journalists will also be able to share articles from other sources and include their own take on the topic.
“Additional features will come with time and allow us to test some of our theories about the future of news,” Berkley said.
The Android version of the Axios app will roll out shortly.