Mobile Devices Lead To A Stronger Connection To News Brands: Study

A new study finds that mobile devices, more than social networks, are driving the revolution in digital news consumption.

The newspaper isn’t dead, it’s just gone mobile.

Not only are more Americans getting their news on mobile devices than ever before, but these mobile users may also have a stronger bond to news brands than their laptop/desktop-using counterparts. According to the Pew Research Center’s annual State of the News Media study, 27% of Americans get their news on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. And 44% of the country now owns a smartphone; 18% owns a tablet.

What’s more significant, though, is that these mobile users are more likely to turn to news brands directly, through apps and home pages, as opposed to Google search results or recommendations on Twitter or Facebook. In addition to suggesting a deeper connection with the news organization’s brand, the findings reflect a deeper connection to the news itself, with three in 10 users reporting that they read more news since purchasing a tablet than ever before.

Researchers also found that mobile use is adding to, not replacing, more traditional web-based news consumption, increasing traffic to major news websites by 9%. This spike may be courtesy of digital newcomers in rural areas where broadband access is limited, and for whom a smartphone or tablet is their first digital device.

In addition to its findings on mobile consumption, Pew looked at the effectiveness of social news discovery and found that a mere 10% of digital news consumers use social networks "very often" to get their news, which may come as a surprise to those of us glued to Twitter and Facebook for breaking news updates. Meanwhile, television news viewership is actually on the upswing at both local stations and cable networks. Local morning and evening broadcast audiences grew by 4.5%, the first signs of growth in 10 years, while CNN and MSNBC also experienced higher viewership in 2011 than the previous year. (Fox News was on the decline for the second year in a row, but still leads the pack with a bigger audience than the two other major networks combined.)

Finally, Pew researchers expect the number of digital news subscriptions on the market to nearly double this year, thanks to the relative success of paywalls like the one implemented by the New York Times, as well as the need to make up for lost ad revenue.

[Image: Flickr user zilverbat]

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