Tablets Influence News Consumption

October 26, 2011

pew-research-tablet-news-habits-oct11.gifAbout one in 10 (11%) of US adults now own a tablet computer of some kind, with about half (53%) of tablet owners getting news on their tablet every day, according to survey results released in October 2011 by the Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism and The Economist Group. Almost eight in 10 (77%) tablet owners use their tablet every day, spending an average of about 90 minutes on them.

News among Top Tablet Activities

Consuming news (everything from the latest headlines to in-depth articles and commentary) ranks as one of the most popular activities on the tablet, about as popular as sending and receiving email (54% email daily on their tablet), and more popular than social networking (39%), gaming (30%), reading books (17%) or watching movies and videos (13%). The only activity that people said they were more likely to do on their tablet computer daily is browse the web generally (67%).

The survey also finds that three in 10 tablet news users (defined for this study as the 77% of all tablet users who get news at least weekly) say they now spend more time getting news than they did before they had their tablet. Just 4% say they spend less time while two-thirds (65%) spend about the same amount of time.

In addition, one-third (33%) of tablet news users say they are turning to new sources for news on their tablet, sources they had not turned to on other platforms such as television or their desktop computer. And more than four in 10 (42%) say they regularly read in-depth news articles and analysis on their tablet.

Tablet news users also say they now prefer their new devices over traditional computers, print publications or television as a way both to get quick news headlines and to read long-form pieces.

Tablet News Revenue Potential May Be Limited

At this point just 14% of tablet news users have paid directly to access news on their tablet. Another 23% get digital access of some kind through a print newspaper or magazine subscription. Of those who haven’t paid directly, just 21% say they would be willing to spend $5 per month if that were the only way to access their favorite source on the tablet. And of those who have news apps, fully 83% say that being free or low cost was a major factor in their decision about what to download.

Desktop Beats Apps for Tablet News

The study reveals that, so far, while about two-thirds of tablet news users have a news app on their tablet, the browser, carried over from the desktop experience, is still the more popular means of consuming news. A plurality of tablet news users (40%) say they get their news mainly through a web browser. Another 31% use news apps and the browser equally, while fewer, 21%, get their news primarily through apps.

Branding Important for Tablet News

Liking the news organization is a major factor for 84% of those who have apps. In addition, among both app and browser respondents surveyed about their behavior over the last seven days, the most common way by far to get news headlines was by going directly to a news organization’s content. Fully 90% of app users went directly to the app of a specific news organization, compared with 36% that went to some sort of aggregator app like Pulse. And, 81% of those who went through their browser accessed news headlines via a direct news website, compared with 68% who went through a search engine and about a third (35%) that went through a social network.

Starch: Tablet Ads Beat E-reader Ads

Magazine ads viewed on tablet computers are more effective than magazine ads viewed on e-readers in garnering consumer attention and engagement, according to data collected by Starch Advertising Research from May-July 2011. Starch data reveals that, on average, 55% of consumers who read a magazine on a tablet “noted,” meaning they saw or read a magazine ad on their device.

In comparison, 41% of e-reader magazine app users noted an ad. This means tablet readers are 34% more likely to note a magazine ad. To put these findings in perspective, the average noting score for all hard copy magazine ads Starch measured in 2010 was 53%.

About the Data: The study, executed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, involved a survey of the general public and three separate surveys. The first was a general population survey. The next two surveys were conducted with a Pew Research Center panel of more than a thousand tablet users. The panel was developed through interviews with 40,000 US adults. A telephone survey was conducted with 1,159 tablet users and 894 tablet news users, and a web-based survey was conducted among a select group of those news users about their news habits over the past seven days.

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