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Survey: Americans turn to established media for breaking news, mobile

Most digital news consumers now get information from Web-native sources like The Huffington Post, but they turn to “established” news outlets like the New York Times, CNN or Fox News for big events and mobile news, according to new research.

That is one finding from a national survey commissioned by The New York Times that examines the cross-platform behaviors of news consumers. Brian Brett, executive director of customer research, will present the findings today at the International Newsmedia Marketing Association’s Audience Summit in Chicago.

This data came from an online survey this spring by Knowledge Networks (a company later acquired by GfK Custom Research) of 3,022 U.S. residents 18 to 65, weighted to match the general population. Eighty-five percent of the respondents qualified as “news consumers” who get some kind of news at least a few times a week.

A majority (53 percent) of digital news consumers said they get information from Web-native sources, citing their convenience and accessibility. Only 43 percent regularly use traditional news sources for digital news, but they prefer it for in-depth reporting and trustworthiness.

Newer online outlets are more likely to be used as a daily news source.

The credibility and depth of established media outlets gives them an edge during breaking news situations. No matter which source first delivers a piece of breaking news, 60 percent of people said they turn to an established outlet as their “second source” to learn more.

Traditional outlets also have a significant lead on emerging mobile platforms, where they draw more readers than the upstart digital sources, the study says:

Majorities of smartphone news readers and tablet news readers turn to traditional news sources.

Social network surprises

The survey provides telling comparisons of how different social networks are used for news consumption.

Facebook has a huge base of one billion users, with more than one-third of Millennials using the network for news. Meanwhile, Google+ shows surprising parity with Twitter, and Pinterest does not register as a news source.

These patterns vary by age groups, with younger generations more likely to get news from social media.

More than one-third of Millenials get news from Facebook.

Social media also is a much bigger news source among people using mobile devices, a pattern consistently found in other recent studies.

30 percent of mobile users find news on Facebook.

Sharing is more than social media

Despite all the social sharing buttons littering news sites, the study finds the top methods of sharing news are still word of mouth and email. (See earlier: Limited use of sharing buttons | Sharing buttons look “a little desperate“)

A significant number of Baby Boomers still tear out articles from print media to share with others.

Young people get more mobile news

The results include a chart that contrasts the types of media people use generally with the types of media they use for news specifically.

The contrasts are instructive — for example, the percentage of print newspaper readers is smaller than the percentage of people who own smartphones but greater than the percentage who get news on smartphones.

TVs and computers are the leading media for news consumption.

But that analysis varies quite a bit across generations. Millenials are more likely to own smartphones and to use them for news, and far less likely to use print newspapers, radio or TV for news.

Millenials show different news consumption habits.

Mobile users get more news

Mobile news consumers also are increasing their news consumption faster than non-mobile users. (See earlier: Mobile news consumers get more news from more sources)

Almost a third of people who get news on mobile devices are getting more news than they did a year ago, the research found.

Older generations get news earlier

Perhaps this is not too surprising, but it’s interesting to see the pattern charted: Young people sleep in and get news later in the day, while older generations consume their news earlier in the day.

I combined three charts into one animation so you can clearly see the leftward shift in time-of-day usage from Millenials to Gen X’ers to Boomers:

The overall lessons of this survey are that young people are driving big trends in social media and mobile news consumption, which means those trends will last and grow into the long-term.

Traditional news sources have some helpful advantages in brand loyalty and credibility as they move into these uncharted spaces, and should lean on those strengths while trying to adapt appropriate lessons from newer digital news outlets. Read more

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Smartphone news readers are driven by psychological rewards

PR Newswire
People who use smartphones to get local or national news tend to prefer emotionally rewarding content like sports and videos over negative content like disasters and crime, according to new research.

A study by the Reynolds Journalism Institute and HCD Research compared people’s media use patterns to their fundamental psychological motivations (seeking rewards vs. avoiding threats). Read more

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The major prototypes in Poynter's EyeTrack: Tablet project include three styles of entry pages. Development is underway. The project is funded largely by the Knight Foundation.

Poynter ‘EyeTrack: Tablet’ research shows horizontal swiping instinct for photo galleries

Poynter’s “EyeTrack: Tablet” project, the latest in our long tradition of research to understand how readers view news, can now announce some early results: iPad users have an overwhelming instinct to swipe horizontally through a full screen photo gallery, regardless of portrait or landscape orientation.

Our Poynter research team thought this was the case. But we couldn’t say with any certainty until we’d observed about a hundred people in an initial, small slice of the study at multiple sites around the U.S.

This first bit of data helps us make decisions about the much more complex prototype designs that we’ll test in the months ahead.

The swiping gesture is an important component to integrate. Much news content on tablets currently call for users to swipe horizontally between stories and vertically through the actual text of a story. But most photo galleries move horizontally through a single story or topic. This finding supports that approach to photo galleries.

In our test, each subject was handed an iPad in a scientifically randomized orientation — portrait or landscape — to look through three photo galleries. They were asked not to turn the tablet after it was handed to them. Participants who were given an iPad in landscape orientation swiped horizontally 93% of the time. In portrait, they swiped horizontally 82% of the time. This is statistically significant (p<0.001) evidence for a horizontal inclination and indicates that the swipe direction isn’t just a random behavior.

So that we can release findings as we go, we’re initially testing small elements of behavior like this, one at a time.

Breaking the research into smaller questions “allows more faculty, researchers and students to get involved,” said Jeremy Gilbert, assistant professor of media product design at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Medill students are conducting part of this early testing. About one-third of participants are in Evanston, Ill., while about one-third of the other subjects are being observed at the University of Florida; and one-third in St. Petersburg, Fla., at Poynter. Soon, participants will be observed in Denmark as well.

The process is painstaking, but it’s better to get specific information sooner, rather than later. We’re basing designs on research, in addition to close observation of what is currently being tried within the media world.

“This lower-cost usability testing is quicker to conduct but can still draw meaningful, methodologically sound conclusions,” said Gilbert. “And it can have impact much more quickly than previous projects.”

The major prototypes in Poynter’s EyeTrack: Tablet project include three styles of entry pages. Development is underway. The project is funded largely by the Knight Foundation.

You can see a few work-in-progress designs above. In a few weeks, the team will begin to use eyetracking gear to see how people use three different tablet entryways and a variety of subsequent story and advertising forms.

The possible variables are endless, but Poynter is working to focus on key issues that can be tested most effectively. In addition to eyetracking equipment, we’re using observational analysis, survey and exit interviews.

Gilbert is part of the core research team with David Stanton of Smart Media Creative; Mario Garcia, founder of Garcia Media and key designer of tablet and media projects; and myself. We also have a long list of stellar advisers from within Poynter and around the world.

And here’s a way you can help: We’re currently looking for 20-30 great stories with strong “shelf life” to be included in the prototype testing. The stories should exemplify storytelling in a variety of forms for tablet — written, video, photo and both static and interactive graphics. If you’d like to suggest a story or project now, please let me know. We need stories about sports, business, global news, science, popular culture, and more.

You can read more about the project and how to get involved on the Poynter “EyeTrack: Tablet” Facebook page and in The Mario Blog.

To hear more detailed discussion about the instinctive swipe direction on tablets, listen to the ViewSource podcast on Monday. Read more

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