Climbing rates of those who own a smartphone, tablet and computer are boosting news traffic. These trends show that a mobile strategy is particularly crucial for the publishing industry.

Americans consume news in a multi-platform fashion

A growing number of Americans are consuming digital news on multiple platforms, and that has a positive effect on readership. In Pew’s Mobile Devices and News Consumption report, these are referred to as “digital mavens,” and they get news on all of their devices, and consume more of it if they own more types of devices. Full-size computers remain the primary platform, with over half of respondents getting news there, but 23 percent get news on their desktop or laptop and a smartphone or tablet, or all three. A news organization website or app is the most common news destination - a third use these conduits “very often,” and 38 percent of tablet users do the same.

News traffic from social networks rising fastest for multiple-device users

Direct traffic certainly outperforms social media, which only connects 9 percent of digital news readers “very often” to stories that show up on their news streams. Facebook doubly outperforms Twitter in traffic numbers, yet traffic percentage is growing quickly - social media to news flow has increased 57 percent since 2009. As with digital news consumption in general, the more devices a person owns, the more they access news through social networks. Three-device owners click news links on Facebook 67 percent of the time, 59 percent of two-device owners have done so, and 41 percent of computer-only news consumers. For Twitter, the pattern is similar - 39 percent, 24 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

High and frequent readership indicates the importance of mobile strategy

Accessing news through mobile devices creates very different usage patterns. Computer-only consumers are less likely to get news - nearly half get news by searching with keywords, while 70 percent of smartphone or tablet users do. Similarly, 54 percent of computer-only consumers go to news sites or apps, but 80 percent of mobile device users do. Mobile users spend more time with news, and read more articles per session. Mobile strategies are now crucial for all industries, but this study underlines the importance of support and optimization of such assets. Though publishing has been suffering from lower revenues, these findings show there is much room to capitalize on the explosion of mobile news access.

By Ivory King