Mobile, tablet devices increase news consumption

New research shows that mobile and tablet devices are increasing American’s news consumption, according to the 2012 State of the News Media report by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. More than a quarter of Americans (27%) now get news on mobile devices, and for the vast majority, this is increasing news consumption, the report finds. “Data tracking people’s behavior, for instance, finds that mobile devices increased traffic on major newspaper websites by an average of 9%,” the report says.

Here are some of the more interesting findings from the report related to mobile and tablet usage:

  • Data from Localytics, a client-based mobile analytics firm, analyzed by PEJ reveals that people spend far more time with news apps on the smartphone and tablet, visit more pages at a sitting, and return more frequently than they do on conventional computers. That data, the report says, reinforce findings from previous PEJ research in 2011 that people read more long- form news articles and go to new news sources on tablets.
  • Eight in ten who get news on smartphones or tablets get news on conventional computers as well. “People are taking advantage, in other words, of having easier access to news throughout the day – in their pocket, on their desks and in their laps.”
  • On both smartphones and tablets, about a quarter of news consumers report using aggregation sites or curation apps, like Flipboard and Pulse, to get their news.
  • The majority of Americans now get news through at least one digital, web-based device. While the desktop or laptop computer remains the primary digital platform for news (54% of Americans get news there), the number of consumers who get news on multiple digital devices is growing. Nearly a quarter of U.S. adults, 23%, now get news on at least two devices–a desktop/laptop computer and smartphone, a computer and a tablet, a tablet and a smartphone, or on all three.
  • The most common way that people get news on mobile devices is by going directly to a news organization’s website or app. About a third of desktop/laptop news consumers and smartphone news consumers get news this way “very often.” Even more tablet news users, 38%, follow this path. On desktop/laptop computers, going to a news site directly is statistically tied with search (30%). Yet even these numbers may understate those seeking out news home pages. Previous PEJ studies have shown that many people who access news through search engines are typing in some variation of the home page name, not searching by topic across different news sources.
  • Social media, while clearly a part of the digital news experience, is not nearly the driver of news that many have suggested. Just 9% of adults get news recommended to them from either Facebook or Twitter “very often” on at least one of the digital devices asked about here. Of the two networks, Facebook garners about twice as many news followers than Twitter. Still, though, the rapid growth is striking. As written about in the Digital chapter of this report [LINK] the percent of traffic that comes to news sites from social media platforms increased 57% since 2009.
  • For those who get news on both the smartphone and tablet, social networking is a much more popular way to get news. Among that group (13% of all digital news consumers), fully two-thirds (67%) have ever gotten news recommendations from Facebook. That compares to 59% who get news on just one of those devices and 41% who only get digital news via the desktop/laptop. Similarly, 39% follow news recommendations on Twitter, compared with 24% who just use a smartphone or a tablet and 9% who use only the desktop/laptop.
  • Consumers who still only get digital news on the desktop/laptop computer have a very different set of behaviors. This group is less likely to get news in any of the ways asked about in the survey than those who get some digital news on a smartphone, a tablet or both. Only about half(48%) get news using key word search “very or somewhat often” compared with at least 70% of those who use a smartphone, tablet or both for news. Similarly, 54% go directly to news websites or apps somewhat or very often, while 80% or more of those who get news on other devices do so.