Insights from the Reuters’ Institute Digital News Report 2015


Glorious data for all of your ideas!

Consultants, marketers, women, men, poodles: lend me your eyes, for this is the gift that keeps on giving.

Allow me to introduce the Reuters’ Institute Digital News Report, a gem of research, taking a thorough, international approach to data collection on our theme.

This one goes out to anyone who, with a deadline looming, has frantically googled ideas to try and come up with credible supporting data.

You know who you are, your heart sinks when you see something related from a 2008 Stack Overflow thread, but, in the absence of anything more substantial, it will suffice. You kid yourself that this is professional, that it’s good enough. Who checks sources anyway?

Say goodbye to all that, for here is an accessible, detailed, sliceable study that should get you through more or less any data crunch. It also has some interpretation and a series of essays, to further extrapolate on the themes. The news industry is particularly useful for content marketers as it is the canary in the coalmine for general content. Given the business model of news production, it is here that we can find more urgent innovation and new products. All we have to do is pay attention to what works and it can help us enormously when plotting our next move.

In broad strokes, the study reveals details you already know:

  • Smartphones are the preferred device for accessing news
  • Video consumption is on the up – in fact it has increased 5%
  • Facebook is where you “bump” into news, Twitter is somewhere you go to find it.

However the impressive depth of this study allows for a more nuanced interpretation.

Please find below a short summary of the stand-out points, the details that could and should impact how marketing budgets are allocated.

The real strength of this report however lies in the detail, so I heartily encourage you to dig in, explore the subjects that are most relevant to you. There is an interactive component too, with some effective data viz tools, which will be useful when pitching your ideas.

Not everyone loves a list

Bar Chart: Reuters' Institute Digital News Report - List News Consumption by Country and Age

List News Consumption by Country and Age

To the chagrin of purists everywhere, listicles have become an enormously popular format, however not everyone enjoys reading them. For, just as the Japanese, Brazilians and Finns love list-format content (20% on average read content once a week this way),  the French and Germans are nonplussed, with only 6% reading list format content on a weekly basis.

The implications for content marketers in this instance is clear: if you are translating and formatting content for different countries, use the insights in this report to gauge what people like.

Video has grown by 5% – but 40% of people don’t even bother

BAR CHART Reuters' Institute Digital News Report - Ways of Consuming News

Ways of Consuming News

The report details the growth of video content, an idea with which we are already familiar however there are still some considerable barriers for users to overcome and as such, the format is wasted on them at the present time.

For example, of those people surveyed who don’t use video, 40%, said they found simple reading quicker and more convenient, with 19% agreeing with the statement that videos rarely add anything useful to the text.

Older groups are two thirds as likely to express a preference for a bigger screen. Younger groups, who expect web applications to respond instantly, are more impatient about load times and about pre roll advertisements getting in the way of content.

For any editors out there, fretting about producing video, data like this will be welcome, because for so long, everyone has preached the virtues of video. This report reveals that whilst video is popular and growing, the old-fashioned, cheap (compared to video at any rate) content in article format, itself a carryover from the print era, is still by far the most popular way to consume content.

According to this report, image scrolling and live news pages are increasingly popular, but nothing like as established as plain old text-based articles. This is interesting given the emergence of Instagram and Snapchat as social networks that share news stories as it suggests that it is not a huge slice of the market, yet, but it might continue to grow.

Social is Queen

TABLE Reuters' Institute Digital News Report - How Social Media Attracts Female Users

How Social Media Attracts Female Users

In terms of gateways to news, there is a significant difference in the way men and women across all countries find their news. 36% of the women polled, versus 27% of men found news stories online via a social network.

This detail is interesting because, when promoting branded content for a predominantly female customer group, it suggests that it make sense to prioritise social promotion as the leading component of your marketing plan. Compounding this opportunity is the fact that women appear to be less brand-driven when it comes to finding news meaning, in theory, a social promotion from a new company is more likely to be seen by women than by men, which is great news if women are your likely future consumers.

Facebook’s resurgence

GRAPHIC Reuters' Institute Digital News Report - The Growth of Facebook

The Growth of Facebook

Rumours of Facebook’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

A few years ago there was a lot of chat about the increasing average age of Facebook users, the fact that teenagers were no longer using Facebook, etc. Despite it’s enormous global reach, opting out of Facebook was a micro-trend.

Until now, wherein Facebook has successfully evolved into a news distribution platform, making it now a major player in how people find, read, and distribute news online. 41% of users access news via the social network each week – this has grown 6% from 2014. Publishers, whilst thrilled with the new traffic, are skittish of relying on an algorithm for so much of it’s growth, however in my mind this is simply a familiar beast in a new coat, as before Facebook, publishers were wary of Google’s algorithm and power. At least at this point the publishers know that Facebook is actively trying to court publishers and their reliance on algorithms is now split between two (at least) companies rather than just one.

But… There is a lot more data for you to discover

This is a brief summary of the more obvious talking points, but there is lots more to discover, including the uses of email and email notifications as a growing channel, the role of TV in finding news and more. This study gives you reliable data, data produced without an associated marketing agenda, which is the best way to stay honest.

Read the full report here or you can watch the video summarising the report in 100 seconds.

Take a look, see what you find and I would love to know how it influences or changes your thinking – please let me know in the comments below.

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Sarah Kershaw is a digital marketing consultant and writer based in New York City, working with an array of clients to optimise their digital footprint. She is interested in the mysteries of the intuitive user experience and the power of words.

State of Digital


Social Media Newsfeed: Harassment on Twitter | Reuters Kills Comments


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Twitter.Logo_-150x150Twitter Offering New Method for Women to Report Harassment (USA Today)
Twitter announced a partnership with nonprofit advocacy group Women, Action, and the Media (WAM!) last week, which changed Twitter’s policy on online harassment toward women. Jaclyn Friedman, executive director of WAM!, spoke on behalf of the organization, saying it was “thrilled to be working with Twitter” to make the platform a safer place for women. Tech Times Twitter has launched a new tool for people to report abuse on the network and get that issue resolved within 24 hours. WAM will essentially monitor the reports on Twitter and bring them to the social media network. It will also track Twitter’s responses to these reports. Los Angeles Times Twitter’s move comes at a time when national conversation has shifted toward the harassment of women online. Discussions have been fueled by “GamerGate” — an ongoing controversy that has included death threats, as well as threats of rape and violence against women who are vocal about the perceived sexism in mainstream video games.

Reuters Kills Comment Sections (SocialTimes)
Friday in an editor’s note Reuters announced that it is ending comments on news stories because we all talk about the news on Facebook and Twitter anyway. Dan Colarusso writes: “We value conversation about the news, but the idea of comments on a website must give way to new realities of behavior in the marketplace. The best place for this conversation is where it is open to the largest number of participants possible.”

SoundCloud’s ‘Wall of Sound’ Commemorates the Fall of the Berlin Wall 25 Years Ago (The Next Web)
Sunday was 25 years since the Berlin Wall dividing East and West Germany was torn down. To commemorate the fall, SoundCloud is partnering with Grey Advertising to launch The Berlin Wall of Sound, an acoustic art project meant to give you a soundscape representing life around the wall.

Twitter’s Former Operating Chief Ali Rowghani Lands at Y Combinator (The Wall Street Journal/Digits)
Twitter’s former operating chief has a new job five months after his sudden resignation. Ali Rowghani has joined Y-Combinator as a part-time partner, according to a blog post published by the startup incubator.

Six Holiday Season Tips for Facebook Marketers from Social Media Expert Mari Smith (AllFacebook)
The holiday shopping season is about to heat up, and social media expert Mari Smith shared some tips for how marketers on Facebook can benefit with the Facebook for Business page.

Facebook is Giving You More Control Over Your News Feed (Mashable)
Facebook is giving you more ways to tweak what you see in your News Feed. The social network unveiled a new settings menu and customization options for News Feed that allows users to personalize the types of content they see.

Use Marketing Personas to Supercharge Your Twitter Content (AllTwitter)
Using a mainstay of traditional marketing, the buyer or marketing persona, you can craft a vision of not just your target audience, but the specific person you want to reach on Twitter. Here’s how.

This Tumblr Celebrates the Art in the Background of Our Favorite Movies (The Verge)
It’s awful easy to forget just how much work goes into making a film — especially if you don’t stick around for the credits. But one professional photographer named Martin Cole is shining light on at least one overlooked role with his Tumblr “Art in Film.”

How Did Wallenda’s Skyscraper Stunt Compare to His Grand Canyon Walk on Twitter? (LostRemote)
Nik Wallenda was the talk of Twitter Sunday night – but how did his Chicago walk fare compare to his walk across the Grand Canyon last summer? According to our analytics partner Canvs, which measures Twitter sentiment, 41,467 out of the 153,086 tweets about “Skyscraper Live” – which has its own microsite – were emotional reactions. Twenty-seven percent of the emotional reactions included the word “love,” and 24 percent included “crazy.”

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