TV news outlets, tablets are yours for the taking

The youth of the US, they are revolting. Not in the nasty sense, but revolting against consuming TV news.

According to some research from Pew, an increasingly small number of ‘young’ Americans are switching off their TV and turning on their phone/tablet/laptop when seeking out the latest news.

According to The Guardian, the report states “Only about a third (34%) of those younger than 30 say they watched TV news yesterday; in 2006 nearly half of young people (49%) said they watched TV news the prior day”. In addition, there was a “notable preference” for consuming news on social media sites over local TV news, according to The Guardian. 42% of 18-29 year olds watched what the US classes as ‘local news’ in 2006, but that figure has dropped to 28% since then.

Perhaps the dual screen habits of playing with a phone or tablet while watching TV are shining through – you’re unlikely to seek out news on Twitter while watching the 10 o’clock News, I would have thought.

Although, I can think of a few use cases that would throw off these results. I regularly go on Twitter with no intention of looking for news, only to end up reading a few articles posted by those I follow. I may throw off the average, given I follow a lot of journalists and PRs, but still. And what if I’m watching BBC TV news on my tablet. Where am I plonked in these results then?

TV’s audience may be aging, but more devices capable of news consumption could and should lead to more news consumption overall. The BBC is already making efforts to improve the iPlayer experience generally for mobile device users. If these US trends come to the UK, it’s up to TV news outlets to make their output as appealing to mobile readers as possible.

Pun-tastic headlines are back – thanks to Google

The web has changed many things in life. When I was but a small child, and nets were for fishing, I didn’t know all cats are hilarious. I had no way of seeing what my friends were having for dinner every day. I was unable to claim knowledge of an obscure acronym cos I couldn’t Wikipedia it.

Now I am a small adult that’s all changed. I can do all these things, and more. The one thing I can’t do is enjoy a good online pun-headline.  As much joy as the web has brought us, SEO and Google News has all but killed the pun-tastic world of tabloid headlines, leaving them the reserve of good old print media only.

pun headlines

This has also lead to some media outlets putting up fairly uninteresting or sensationalised news pieces, with headlines likely to grab SEO traffic. For example, stick ‘Kate Middleton’ in a headline last week and you’ll probably see a spike in traffic. But perhaps this is all about to change. Some bright spark at Google must be missing the puns as much as I am. Whoever it is must have been a fan of The Big Breakfast’s Pun Down too.

Google is launching ‘news_keywords’ metatag to solve the headline issue. Rudy Galfi, Google News product manager, says the new tool “lets publishers specify a collection of terms that apply to a news article. These words don’t need to appear anywhere within the headline or body text…Because the metatag appears only as part of the HTML code of a page, visitors to a site won’t ever see the magic under the hood.”

In other words, you can now tag a headline with keywords in the same way you can tag a post or article. These tags won’t appear in the headline, but Google’s clever spiders will see them when crawling and indexing the page, the process Google follows to make sites show up in search results. Tags help Google understand the context of a webpage, and identify which words it should index against. This ultimately makes it easier for Google users to find the relevant page or pages they want.

The key benefit here is removing the need to have what users are searching for in the headline, freeing up writers to be all creative with puns. For example, the classic headline ‘Wham bam! Sam Cam to be mam’ (wherein PM David Cameron’s wife Samantha is reportedly pregnant) is not well optimised for SEO. No one is looking for this news is likely to search for anything other than perhaps the media nickname ‘Sam Cam’.

But if you can tag it with say ‘David Cameron’, ‘Samantha Cameron’, ‘pregnant’, ‘prime minister’, ‘baby’, and so on, then you get the comedy pun and the traffic.

Bravo Google, a most worthwhile improvement. And hopefully one that will discourage media outlets from shoving up rush stories with SEO grabbing headlines.

HT to @vickywoollaston


Media Brand Reps outweigh Facebook and Twitter recommendations

Good news for fans of mobile news consumption in the US – mobile news consumption in the US is on the up.

Mobile news

That’s according to The State of the News Media 2012, which is an annual report on American Journalism from Pew Research, don’t you know.

The report is, according to The Guardian’s Greenslade blog, a “comprehensive analysis of the health of journalism in America”. Results show those in the US who consume news on mobile devices are not replacing their previous news digestion habits, but adding to them. They’re also reading more, and for longer.

According to the report, 34% of PC (desktop and laptop) news enthusiasts now also get their news on a smartphone – presumably when they are not using said PC while on the bus, out for a stroll or queuing up (perhaps to buy a newspaper, just for giggles). Even with one mobile device as a news source, over a quarter (27%) also consume news on a tablet. That’s at least three separate connected devices all used to get their news.

Is this surprising? Not so much. Rather than actively choosing to consume news on different devices, the ease of use and readily available apps means consumers will pick up whatever is nearest / most appropriate for location. For example, when out and about walking to the train station you’ll scroll through news on your phone, and then when/if you take a seat on the train you can switch to your tablet before hitting up your desktop at work.

What is interesting is the perception of a media outlet’s brand verses social media. According to The Guardian piece, “despite the explosion in social media use through the likes of Facebook and Twitter, recommendations from friends are not yet a major factor in steering news consumption” when compared to a publication’s brand and reputation. It seems we’re far more likely to trust an established media outlet with our mobile news than a link with ‘this cat video is so funny lolz’ on our Twitter feed.


Facebook–an Oyster Card for online news?

So Facebook is continuing its acquisition of journalists, with the arrival of former Bloomberg hack Dan Fletcher as the platform’s ‘managing editor’ – but what does this mean for online news, is the social media behemoth about to take on traditional giants of the news industry?

It’s an interesting development, not least because of the vast global audience that Facebook could become an aggregator for, with tailored, bespoke news delivery. Such a service could potentially be able to take on one of the biggest challenges to the news industry, namely monetising content in such a fashion that avoids creating silos.

At present, only a few online news providers require a subscription – the FT seemingly the most successful, with revenue from subs overtaking that from advertising for the first time, while the Times has to regularly ‘drops’ its paywall (allegedly) in order to maintain decent levels of ABCs.

The challenge faced is that the public want news from a variety of sources, but are unwilling – unsurprisingly – to pay for each and every source they visit. Facebook becoming an aggregator for news content distribution, in some form or other, could potentially tackle this, with the potential to establish an ‘Oyster Card’ style mechanic.

Under such, readers could buy pre-paid credit for the overarching network of news sites delivered through Facebook, and simply spend it as they wish, with Facebook taking responsibility for distributing fees accordingly. The sheer scale of Facebook’s network would suit such an innovative solution, and would avoid the silos created online at present, whilst also giving the public the news they want, from the sources they want it from.

It’s a long shot, but it might just work…


Less than 4% of Readers are Paying for News Online

With all the excitement of the Christmas break this little nugget of research information almost slipped past – almost.

A media habits survey by the Oliver & Ohlbaum consultancy found TV remains the news source of choice for consumers, with 75% of respondents turning on the tube for their daily updates. Online is only marginally lagging behind at 68%, and on average online readers are landing on 5.2 sites for their news intake – funnelled along by an RSS feed here and there presumably.

O&O media consumption

Online is outstripping the traditional print newspaper too, but sadly only a small fraction of respondents, 3.8%, are currently paying for online news. A low figure here is not surprising with so many sites offering their content for free – but sub 4% really is low.

Looking solely at mobiles and tablets, the number of payers jumps to 9% and 19% respectively. Paid Content puts this partly “down to the fact that tablet owners are early adopters, with more disposable income” and “the fact that those publishing for tablets have wised up after missing the boat with paid content on the wider Internet.”

Both good facts. It’s also worth considering readers may not begrudge paying for online news if it is mobile, following them on their phone and tablet wherever they wonder – much the way paying for digital music streaming seems more attractive when packaged with a mobile app and subscription.

Where does this leave those humble web editors trying to jazz up there online content? If converting the masses of online readers to paid content relies on readers owning a flash (that is fancy flash, not Flash the video format) tablet or smartphone and publishers putting up cash for device-orientated content, how do you reach the average laptop user who’s still tip-tapping at his keyboard?

Image source: Oliver & Ohlbaum via Paid Content