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5 Stats That Should Have Journalism Organizations Thinking About Mobile

It’s no surprise to anyone reading this that mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are skyrocketing in popularity and usage. But it’s still shocking to see some news sites that aren’t fully optimized for the mobile experience.

I’m guessing some organizations aren’t putting as much stock in it due to resources and actually having people in house who can ensure products work on multiple platforms. But perhaps some organizations just don’t understand the growth in users adopting tablets and smartphones to get the news.

A study released earlier this week by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which surveyed 9,513 U.S. adults, shows a clear picture of the growth of mobile usage.

Here are five stats that I believe news organizations will find intriguing:

1. 50 percent of U.S. adults own either a tablet or smartphone. More specifically, 22 percent of all adults reported owning a tablet device and 44 percent said they own a smartphone.
The growing mobile landscape in news.

2. For people who use a tablet on a daily basis, the average time spent interacting with the device is 1 hour and 49 minutes in 2012—up from 1 hour and 39 minutes in 2011. This is important for news organizations to note: As more people adopt mobile technologies, they are also spending more time, on average, engaging with their devices. While this usage includes time that users are accessing email, browsing social networks, playing games and shopping, among other things, the longer users are engaging with the devices, the more opportunities for news organizations to reach their audience.

3. 66 percent of tablet or smartphone owners get news on their device. In addition to this, the Pew study also reports that 43 percent of respondents who own a tablet said that the news they get on their tablet device is actually adding to their overall news consumption.

Also, for users who own both a smartphone and a tablet, Pew notes that these users may be more engaged news consumers. Pew elaborates in the study:

They are more likely to read deeply (fully 82% sometimes or regularly read in-depth articles on their tablet compared with 62% of those who get news on just the tablet), to send or receive news through email or social networks and to read past issues of magazines. And, while the numbers are still small, dual-device mobile news users are also more likely than others to have paid for digital news content.

4. 37 percent of tablet users and 36 percent of smartphone users say that they use their devices to get news on a daily basis. These percentages increase dramatically for tablet and smartphone users on a weekly basis: 64 percent of tablet owners get news on their device each week and 62 percent of smartphone users access news on a weekly basis using their device.

5. Fully 60 percent of tablet news users mainly use the browser to get news on their tablet, just 23 percent get news mostly through apps and 16 percent use both equally. This may be my favorite stat among all the data points from this study. Compare this to the 2011 Pew study, where just 40 percent of respondents got news mostly through a browser on their tablet. While news organizations focus heavily on their site performance, it’s vitally important to make sure it also functions correctly on mobile browsers.

There is at least one person who I believe would whole-heartedly agree with me on this last point: NPR news applications editor, Brian Boyer.

If you haven’t checked out the study (Pew also released a neat inforgraphic), give it a look and tell us what other stats you believe news organizations should be paying attention to when discussing their mobile strategies.

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