Recently, News Corp announced that they were pulling the plug on their subscription based, mobile only newspaper The Daily. It was a grand attempt to get readers to pay for quality content but it fell far short of expectations. Did News Corp do something wrong, or is it the concept as a whole that is at fault?
Mojiva has some data that could help answer that question. They’re a mobile ad network site that reaches 1.1 billion mobile devices around the world. They just published a new report covering the US and the UK titled “The State of Mobile News Consumption“. Talk about spot on!
Amy Vale, VP, Global Research and Strategic Communications of Mojiva, Inc. begins with this:
“People who read the news aren’t necessarily giving up one platform in favor of a different or newer platform, but are instead morphing into ‘multi-platform’ consumers for different news ‘experiences’. Reading the news in print, or even online, is a much more immersive experience given the nature of the screen size, whereas reading news on a mobile device gives consumers up-to-the-minute information on breaking news the second it becomes available, wherever they may be.”
I hate to disagree so early in the post, but I do. Ms. Vale says that reading online and print is more immersive than reading on mobile because of screen size. I say, screen size has nothing to do with it. Reading on mobile is MORE immersive than print and online because it’s designed for laid-back browsing and it’s tactile.
When you read on a tablet, you’re usually sitting on a couch or in bed. It’s a comfort environment, not a work environment. That means you can enjoy the experience more than reading at a computer. Since you have to touch the screen to flip the pages, mobile engages the user again and again. Granted, you can sit on the couch with a printed newspaper and you do flip the pages, but I’ve never found the wide wing-span and the inky residue of a paper to be relaxing.
Let’s go one more step. If the content publisher is using mobile properly, then the content itself will be immersive. Stories will contain clickable links, videos, audio, slide shows – the page will come to life and actively engage the reader. If that’s not immersive, then what is?
The study found that around a quarter of US respondents use mobile to keep up with the news. 30% of smartphone users said they learn about breaking news through text alerts and notifications on their mobile device.
In order to keep up with the day’s events, 70% of US tablet owners check at least two news sites or apps everyday. For smartphone owners it was only 61%. Either way, that’s a lot of people using mobile to read the news.
Here’s a stat I don’t get:
67 percent of U.S. smartphone owners, 54 percent of U.S. tablet owners will pay more attention to mobile ads if the content is relevant to the actual news story they are reading or watching on their mobile device.
Matching ads to news stories? So, home security systems next to a story about a deadly, home invasion robbery? Weight loss pills next to a story about rising obesity in children? I suppose it makes sense, but it feels wrong just the same.
I like this one better:
The top three factors for mobile advertising receptiveness within mobile news sites or apps in the U.S. are personalization/relevance (25 percent), humor/entertainment (19 percent), and interesting content and information (15 percent).
Don’t you love that humor was more important that good information? What’s more interesting is that in the UK, they didn’t ask for interesting content. Their third spot went to “a minimal presence of fewer ads overall.” Basically, if there are fewer ads, they’ll pay more attention. I can see that.
Here’s the killer. The stat that took down The Daily.
65 percent of US and 69 percent of UK smartphone respondents, as well as 59 percent of US tablet respondents, would not pay for a subscription to access their favorite news source from their smartphone or tablet.
Ouch but I get it. I write for a living and yet I’m reluctant to pay for a digital subscription to a newspaper or magazine.
Is there anything that can change the minds of the majority? Yes. More immersive content. I’d pay for a digital subscription if it wasn’t just a regurgitation of information I could find free online. Make it sing, make it dance, do whatever you gotta do, because words on a page simply won’t cut it anymore. So sad, but true.
Want to read the full report? Give Mojiva your contact info and you can download “State of Mobile News Consumption” for free.