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Posted on 04.08.2011

News Media Depend Increasingly on Aggregators, Social Networks to Deliver Audience

The U.S. news industry depends increasingly on other organizations to deliver a growing portion of its audience, finds “The State of the News Media 2011,” a report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. These players, which frequently take a share of the revenue and control the audience data, include independent networks, aggregators and social networks. One author of the report notes that in a world where consumers decide what news they want and how they want to get it, the future belongs to those who understand the audience best and can leverage that knowledge. News consumption is becoming more mobile, with 47 percent of Americans now receiving some form of local news on a mobile device. Online is still a leader in how people say they get their news at 46 percent, surpassed only by local TV news at 50 percent. In fact, every media sector is losing audience now except online. This includes cable news networks like CNN, Fox and MSNBC, which for the first time experienced double-digit loss of viewership in 2010. Radio, which has been a relatively stable media platform, is expected to experience major change soon with the addition of online radios by carmakers like Toyota. For the first time, overall online advertising revenue surpassed spending on print newspaper advertising, and with the growing popularity of tablets, growth in online ad spending is expected to continue. The growth in online ad spending doesn’t necessarily translate to good news for news organizations, however.  Much of that online ad spending goes to places other than news sites, and the Pew report predicts that is unlikely to change.  Since online advertising will likely never generate profits for news organizations to compare with the ad revenues generated in traditional platforms like printed newspapers, news sites continue to seek ways to charge for content and develop alternate revenue streams. The media is dynamic and evolving. Pew’s latest report reinforces the importance of not only identifying your audiences but understanding the way they prefer to receive content. From the changing needs of journalists to the most effective way to target ad budgets as news consumption trends shift, this understanding is more critically important than ever to developing an effective strategic communications and marketing plan. Do you know how your audience prefers to receive news and information? How have you seen those trends change in your organization?

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