Mobile Aids Growth of Traditional Media

June 29th, 2012
by Johna Burke

Despite what some proponents contend, traditional media is not dead. In truth – it’s not even on life support.  Sure, The Media has changed in scope (with the biggest decline in outlets occurring in 2009), but certainly not in respect to relevancy, and absolutely NOT in how news consumers access content and satiate their growing appetite.

Why do I think so?  “A mounting body of evidence finds that the spread of mobile technNot seeing all of your media coverage is like looking at the grand canyon through a strawology is adding to news consumption, strengthening the appeal of traditional news brands and even boosting reading of long-form journalism,” confirms The PEW Research Center in its State of the News Media 2012.

The PEW study shows, “27 percent of the population now gets news on mobile devices. And these mobile news consumers are even more likely to turn to news organizations directly, through apps and homepages, rather than search or recommendations – strengthening the bond with traditional brands.” 

Our changing media consumption habits are augmenting, not diminishing, the importance of traditional media. Largely in part to how today’s audiences access The Media across multiple platforms and channels rather than simply swapping one media type for the other.

 The study goes on to cite the comScore whitepaper on Digital Omnivores: How Tablets, Smartphones and Connected Devices are Changing U.S. Digital Media Consumption Habits, quoting, “The evidence also suggests mobile is adding to, rather than replacing, people’s news consumption. Data tracking people’s behavior, for instance, find mobile devices increased traffic on major newspaper websites by an average of 9%.”

What’s even more interesting is that mobile users tend to favor traditional media values even when using digital platforms to access the content. For example, “The data also found that the reputation or brand of a news organization, a very traditional idea, is the most important factor in determining where consumers go for news, and that is even truer for mobile devices than on laptops or desktops,” according to Amy Mitchell and Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, and Leah Christian of the Pew Research Center in Mobile Devices and News Consumption: Some Good Signs for Journalism. 

Despite the growth of social media, the brand reputation of traditional media (which also has a social ecosystem) has more influence on audiences – exceeding shares on social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, and even those made by friends.

So, the next time you read a tweet or hear about the demise of traditional media, try to put it in perspective and remember that unless you are seeing your coverage from ALL types of media, you won’t have an accurate representation of how your messages are playing out and influencing ALL of your audiences. While I recommend stakeholder targeting related to your goals and initiatives, all forms of an outlet should be part of your sample or you are skewing your data and results of a high level of integrity based on sampling. Ironically, in an effort to be trendy, some organizations focus solely on digital. However a digital focus alone, that doesn’t include traditional media, is blindingly misleading and can be equated to looking at the Grand Canyon through a straw. Sure, it’s pretty, but you miss more than you see!

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