It’s adapt or die for traditional publishers and broadcasters in the age of the connected consumer, with people spending more time consuming media on mobile devices and less time reading newspapers and watching TV.
The latest National Readership Survey (NRS) figures, released last week, reveal that five of the UK’s national newspapers now have a majority mobile-only audience. This means that most people only read the newspaper on a smartphone or tablet.
The Telegraph is the latest national title to record a majority mobile-only audience, with figures for October 2014 to September 2015 showing that 12.2 million people read The Telegraph via smartphone or tablet, and not on desktop or in print. This represents 53% of the paper’s total UK audience of 22.9 million readers.
Most readers of The Independent (63%), the Daily Mirror (56%), The Express (55%) and The Guardian (52%) also access stories on a mobile device only.
Malcolm Coles, digital media director at The Telegraph, welcomed the NRS figures. He told Journalism.co.uk that the newspaper has made a conscious effort to enhance the quality of its digital publishing in the past year, with live blogging and mobile-first distribution channels such as Facebook playing a big role.
As part of its digital strategy, The Telegraph has also been working on providing more contextual and background information related to news stories.
“We’ve got this whole system of explainer embeds that we put into articles to help people understand the context of what they’re reading a bit more,” Coles said.
“We’ve done this via timelines and explainer cards, and this has driven up our average time on page [metric].”
Another established news provider, CNN, has also found new ways to engage mobile users, as TechWeek Europe reported recently.
“For 35 years video has been the DNA of CNN. We have to continue reimagining ourselves especially with regards to mobile,” explained Alex Wellen, head of product at CNN Digital. “It used to be about destinations: you come to us and we tell you what we want when we want in a linear fashion.”
These days, it’s about control — giving people what they want when they want it, Wellen said.
In October CNN launched CNN Go, offering users on-demand video alongside contextual information such as tweets and written content. This allows users to choose which order they view stories. And it’s an approach that users obviously like: CNN Go viewers watch the app for twice as long as TV viewers.
The news channel has also found an effective way of monetising its digital content, with digital ads that are contextual — allowing the company to charge more, while users find them less invasive.
Although new publishers like BuzzFeed present strong competition, it’s clear that established media companies like CNN, founded in 1980, and The Telegraph, whose origins date back to 1855, can also find success by reinventing themselves for the mobile-first age.
“The trend towards reader empowerment maps the trends that we saw in our connected consumer research. Modern consumers expect to be in control and to be able to access information and communicate using multiple devices and platforms. All businesses need to identify the way in which their customers, supplier sand staff want to communicate and adapt accordingly. The always on world is here and we all need to embrace it.” Jon Fell, Partner