September 2023

The Everchanging News

News & Media Pivots in the Digital Age

The way we consume and access news and media has changed drastically over the course of (past) decades. Print newspapers and magazines, news television and cable channels, and terrestrial and satellite radio had their firm grip on media consumption disrupted once the internet stepped into the arena. Online, digital media is easy to access and use, it’s cheap, and it’s everywhere.

Do You Do the News?

It is no wonder then that the global media market has experienced a significant increase in size, from 1.98 trillion USD in 2021 to 2.21 trillion USD in 2022 as stated by Media Global Market Report 2022.

Online news is not new: the  first paper online was the Daily Telegraph, having launched The Electronic Telegraph in 1994. BBC Online launched in 1997, and only a year later, The Drudge Report gave us the first big online scoop – the Monica Lewinsky story online, pulling online journalism into the big leagues.

Although very sceptical at first, traditional media embraced the immediacy of online, starting with 9/11, which saw major news outlets online collapse under the pressure of numerous visitors and continuing with in situ blogger reports from the Iraq war, as well as with user images and videos used collected for news reports on the Asian tsunami in 2004 and London July 7 bombings in 2007. Getting on-site, fresh information from blogs and social media networks continues to this day.

Yet certain factors in the 2020s have affected media news consumption negatively. Both the coronavirus pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war have led to many people employing what is known as “selective avoidance”, where they intentionally avoid news media because it negatively affects their mood – such examples can be found in Brazil and the UK, where research shows selective avoidance doubling in the past several years: 54% of respondents in Brazil, 46% in the UK.

The general lack of fact-checking and increase in fake news online in the past years has also reduced trust even in well-established media, both traditional and digital, with on average only four out of ten people expressing their trust in the news.

Accessibility, Speed and Portability

While trustworthiness may be an issue for both, there are aspects of digital media that traditional media simply cannot be beat. It is available anywhere there is an internet connection and on any mobile device, while traditional media is inevitably firmly chained to certain locations or specific devices that aren’t portable (newsstands for newspapers and magazines, television for TV and cable news channels).

This convenience also extends from location to time as well: news are available at any time of day or night, with round the clock updates on current affairs and new content uploaded by the hour. 

Digital media also has the advantage of speed, as it can get the news to its readers significantly faster than its traditional counterparts and has a much easier time providing live coverage of currently unfolding events.

Not having everything from the print edition available online is an incentive to get your hands on the print newspaper, while exclusive online content motivates to engage with the digital edition.

Out With the Old? Not so Fast!

Although it is certainly easy to spell doom for traditional newspapers and news media, the future might still prove that, as it has many times before, traditional news are not going anywhere, only evolving, adopting some of the new techniques and certain attitudes of their digital counterparts.

Traditional newspapers have gone online, offering their content on their own webpages and through their own mobile apps. Many giants have gone both print and digital, including New York Times and The Guardian. This approach ensures that they keep their older readership, still faithful to their print editions while simultaneously reaching new readers who may not be interested in print newspapers.

The practice of not everything from the print edition being available online is an incentive to visit your local newsstand. The opposite approach, where newspapers will have exclusive online content, motivates print readers to engage with the digital edition.

According to recent research, many younger and less educated people avoid news in general because it is hard to follow and understand, giving any enterprising e-newspaper an opportunity to reach a new and wider audience not by dumbing down their content but by simplifying language and providing better and easier to understand contexts for complex stories.

Unlike traditional media, digital media is available anywhere there is an internet connection and on any mobile device.

In Step with the Times: Trends

When it comes to digital media trends, the smartphone has become the dominant way most people access the news, and they most often do it first thing in the morning, reaching for their device while still in bed. 

It is, of course, not just the news that digital media can offer its consumers and it is this particular trend – shoppable content – that has had a meteoric rise in recent years.

NBCUniversal, Hulu, and Amazon are just some of the companies investing in on-screen QR codes and reaping the benefits of significantly increased conversion rates, while Conde Nast has been investing in special videos of famous influencers and celebrities showcasing anything from hottest fashion items to beauty products, with the ability for any viewer to make a purchase even as they’re still watching.

QR codes are now used for product placement in whatever it is that you are currently watching, be it a YouTube video, a TV Show or a TikTok short, not only in ad breaks during regular programming on TV or in sidebars and tabs on streaming services.

Traditional media does not lag much behind. Scanning a QR code presented alongside the product in a paper ad may be old news now, but it still works. You can also just take a photo of it with your phone and instantly access an online shop where you can purchase said item. 

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It was in the late 2000s that Netflix decided to expand from DVD rentals by mail to online VOD,  video on demand which had quietly been around since the 1990s.

Instant Gratification, At Your Own Leisure

Impulse buying seems to be at the core of the modern consumer and this trait has been a boon to modern marketers on both social media in particular and digital media in general. And here, convenience is key – the accessibility of content, in any place and at any time, as long as the consumer has an Internet connection

A consumer can access a digital newspaper on their own schedule and the content is always there, but it goes beyond just that: digital media can also tailor said content to each of its consumer’s wishes and interests, something impossible for traditional media.

Certain categories of news and features can be pushed to the front if the consumer is more interested in a specific type of content, ensuring their retention and engagement, and newsletters with digests and email and smartphone notifications can be employed to ensure a consumer always knows when a new item of interest has been published.

Social and Digital, Hand in Hand

Social media and major chat apps have also been something that newspapers and magazines, both traditional and digital have had to adapt to. In a world where social media consumption is at its peak, digital media outlets have been increasing their presence on everything from Facebook and Instagram to Telegram and WhatsApp to YouTube and TikTok.

TikTok alone has had a dramatic effect on the news’ ability to reach younger people: the social media app is used by about 40% of 18 to 24-year-olds worldwide, 15% of which are using it to access news, especially in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Digital media is an expansive frontier with many new and exciting developments just around the corner, especially with new technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality.

Insights from our expert: Ardalan Fadai, Head of Sales in Norway

“According to Nexi research, 27% of people in Norway pay for a digital medium. This number has not changed in the last couple of years, nor has the total amount we spend: 2.3 billion NOK in 2022 to 2.2 billion NOK in 2021.

“The current trend is certainly receiving news through online channels. That does not, however, mean (only) online newspapers.

“In the Kantar yearly report, it was found that 70% of Norwegians said online newspapers are their most important channel for news, while 32% said it was social media. If we break this question down by age groups, we find that 50% of 12-17 year-olds get their news from online newspapers and 72% from SoMe.”