With declining print circulations, publishers have been focusing their effort on web content. Recent research by Neil Thurman, Professor at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, has shown that online news does not engage your readers like their print product does. But isn’t that a negligible detail if web traffic is high? Actually, this study clearly reveals a close correlation between audience attention and revenue.
Earlier this week, The Irish Independent drew the attention to this research on 11 British publishers (‘Newspaper Consumption in the Mobile Age’), which offers insight into the engagement of their newspaper and online audiences.
“While chasing their digital dreams they have, perhaps, neglected print – their golden goose.”, writes Steve Dempsey, Head of Product Management at the Irish Independent.
By not focusing on the reach of the newspaper, but taking into account the time spent on an article, Neil Thurman found that print newspapers are read on average 40 minutes per day (88,5% of total time spent by the audience). We only spend 30 seconds of our day on their websites (4,05%) and mobile news apps (7,49%).
Not only do we spend more time on the paper version, the presented information also makes a deeper impression. An important detail, as the purpose of a publisher, is to spread important social, cultural and political news.
Furthermore, UK newspapers have been focusing purely on the reach, neglecting the power of their print editions. Including the time spent-criterion reveals a whole different competitive landscape in Thurman’s research. AlthoughThe Mail remains on top, it should reassess its competitive strategy as The Sun moved up as their main competitor. According to the reranking, The Guardian, which moved from the second to the sixth place, is now also outperformed by The Telegraph, Mirror and The Times.
Publishers are not doomed yet. A realignment with readers’ behavior and preferences is clearly necessary. Bringing both worlds, the online and the print, together will be a crucial challenge. This implies giving the mobile version the features, design and feel of a print edition, which already can be found in some of the best mobile apps and ePaper editions.
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