Mobile news consumption on the rise

According to this year’s Digital News Report, the continuing shift towards smartphones is changing the role of mobile apps for news consumption.

By Sarah Emler, contributor, Reuters Community

The typical internet user is five times more likely to pick up their mobile device than going to the computer.

Mobile news consumption continues to rise all over the world –– even doubling in most countries over the past six years.

According to the Digital News Report 2018, on average, 62% of their sample used their smartphones for news, weekly.1 The typical internet user is five times more likely to pick up their mobile device than going to the computer2. In the UK the mobile phone is leaving behind the computer as the preferred device for accessing news.

WhatsApp use for news has more than doubled since 2014 and hence, overtaken Twitter.

People engage differently on their mobile devices. This demands a new way of storytelling and affects the way news content is produced since the emphasis lies on different formats and less traditional news coverage, since its a younger audience.

This creates a new challenge for media companies –– delivering news designed for mobile devices.

As reported in the Digital News Report 2018, the growth for news consumption on Facebook for mobile is slowing while other apps are taking the lead (23%). WhatsApp use for news has more than doubled to 16% since 2014 and hence, overtaken Twitter. Close behind is Facebook Messenger with an increase of 2% in the last year.

Snapchat is proving popular for news in European countries and the US. In Norway, Snap increased its reach by over 4% within the last year. Instagram shows the same growth in Latin America.

In light of this potential, let’s take a look at three apps in which news consumption is gaining popularity...

1. Instagram: make video real, not polished

Interestingly, The Guardian experienced greater success with less professional videos on Instagram Stories. When analyzing their audience data over two months, it became apparent again that videos worked best –– but not the professional ones shot in a studio.

The audience responded to less labor-intensive and natural coverage. With these videos, The Guardian grew from 860,000 to one million followers on their main Instagram account in four months.3

On June 20, Instagram announced Instagram TV (IGTV), which allows for publishers to share long-form videos of up to 60 minutes. Several news outlets such as The Economist, Vice and the BBC are experimenting with IGTV. The BBC has already benefited from it, gaining more engagement on IGTV (views and comments) than on Instagram Stories. Whether there'll be long-term gain remains to be seen.

2. WhatsApp: offer personal and trusted news

Political discussions are migrating to safer environments. This not only applies to users in more authoritarian countries but also in more democratic ones.

Posting on Facebook potentially shares 'what's on your mind' with a vast audience – even more so when answering a post on an open page. 

This creates vulnerability, and so political discussions are migrating to safer environments. This not only applies to users in more authoritarian countries but also in more democratic ones.

According to the Digital News Report 2018, people feel less comfortable when sharing their political views openly. Apps such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger offer greater privacy and fewer public misunderstandings.  

WhatsApp groups are more personal, creating a more trusting sharing environment for news content.

3. Snapchat: broadcast news stories

In the US focus group, Snapchat and Instagram were seen to be “making things more convenient than Facebook"

During the school shooting in Florida in February 2018 Snapchat Discover became an important news source.

A navigable map showed students protesting on gun-laws, making it possible for publishers to use that content to broadcast news stories.

That feature now reaches 17% of 18-24s in the United States, and a staggering 32% in Norway. Snap itself continues to grow rapidly. Between the last quarter of 2017 and the first of 2018, daily active users rose up to 191 million, growing by 4 million in three months. For some in the US focus group (part of the Digital News Report research), Snapchat and Instagram were seen to be “making things more convenient than Facebook.”

 

How Reuters can help you get a grip of the mobile trend...

Innovation is at the heart of what we do and answering our customers needs is the priority. Our ready-to-publish content is designed to be visually compelling to use and watch on mobile. Our dedicated team of editors quickly create captioned and voiced ready-to-publish clips in multiple languages. 

If you're looking to boost engagement and differentiate your brand on mobile, learn from Senior Product Manager Wei Shi why you should use graphics on mobile. All our interactive graphics can be accessed via Reuters and be added with a simple embed code. Raw files are also available so you can adjust the fonts and colors to fit your style guides.

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