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How news habits are changing as media evolves

With more choice, power and information at their fingertips than ever before, today's consumers are making quicker, more connected decisions about everything from how to spend their money to which media they consume.
Image credit: Julius Drost on Unsplash.

This has placed an onus on brands and media companies to use technology to not only make things faster, easier and more productive but to ensure audiences feel part of something meaningful. It is vital to make experiences personal to audiences and to deliver them at the moments when they are going to resonate the most. 
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TV on the mobile


When and where content will be the most receptive to viewers is continually changing, as evidenced by a dramatic shift in the last five years of where consumers are spending their time. On average globally, people spend over 11 hours a day consuming media in some form across platforms, marking a 10% increase in consumption compared to data from 2012.

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TV continues to remain an important part of this mix, but, unsurprisingly, we are seeing a shift in people spending more time online, especially in non-English speaking countries. Time spent on mobiles is now at over three hours 15 minutes per day on average according to Global Web Index’s Q1 2019 research data.

Looking specifically at South Africa, Global Web Index data from 2017-2018 shows an even higher average media consumption than the global average, with South Africans consuming on average 14 hours per day consuming media. Again, the mobile online consumption in South Africa is higher than the global average, with an average of three hours 44 minutes of online content consumed per person per day on mobile.

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A significant growth in mobile/online penetration across the country is also transforming the way people in South Africa watch TV, with many reaching for their phone when looking to engage in TV content. Global Web Index found that 23% of people in the country have watched TV on their mobiles.

These changes in consumer behaviour are affecting where and how often people find their news, with smartphones becoming the primary device and start point for news consumption. A bespoke research study CNN conducted earlier this year found that 67% of audiences generally use websites and apps for their news consumption, with social (58%) and search (42%), national TV (61%) and dedicated TV news channels (55%) still playing a critical role in following the story.

All this insight speaks to the rapid change of the news cycle, but also the need for brands and publishers to focus on providing audiences with content that matters to them. 



There are also indications that, driven by concerns of misinformation, in 2019 attitudes (especially amongst younger audiences) are changing towards news on social media. For instance, according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019, while 68% of international news audiences have used Facebook for news, less than a quarter of the audience trusts news from the platform. There can be an exception here though when news is clearly provided on social media by a trusted news brand that the audience is already familiar with. 

Audiences today have higher expectations and lower attention spans when it comes to content. Moreover, in the “Amazon era” of easy access and fast delivery, audiences demand that media and news brands meet their expectations for what they want, when they want it and where they need it.

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This is driven by three points:
  1. Build credibility and favourability through accuracy and trust – Being responsible not just with audience’s data but in the calibre of the content delivered to them.
  2. Have a deep and enriched knowledge of audiences – Understanding and treating them as people with real-life interests and behaviours, not proxies defined by general demographics.
  3. Provide audiences with relevant and meaningful content – Identifying the key moments when content is going to resonate the most.

Every news organisation must embrace these points because trust translates into loyalty and vice versa.

The importance of trust also permeated throughout the Reuters Institute Digital News Report, which found that consumers are relying more on “reputable brands” as trust in news more generally continues to fall with rising concerns of negativity, fake news and overload of information. In the global study, nearly a quarter of people (24%) said that they would stop using sources that had a “less accurate reputation”.

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Linked directly to this need for trust is an appetite for enterprising and informed journalism. The CNN research study found that audiences placed most value on journalists who display a depth of knowledge and passion, an ability and drive for the truth and a willingness to go to wherever the heart of the story is to report the facts first-hand. 

It is paramount for news brands to live up these expectations if they are to retain and grow audiences. Advertisers and audiences have just as much to gain from creating deeper experiences because consumers expect a two-way relationship with brands and furthermore expect experiences to be consistent across all touchpoints of their journey.

Listening to consumers, understanding their behaviour, interacting with them and responding to their wants and needs (all in a data responsible and safe environment, of course) is the only way this is achieved.
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About Tini Sevak

As Vice President, Audiences and Data, at CNN International Commercial (CNNIC), Tini Sevak oversees a global team of data and research specialists using Turner resources as well as out-of-house capabilities. As a data industry leader, Sevak has spoken at major events such as DMexco, Festival of Marketing, and Marketing Week Live.
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