Executive Summary

In recent times, access to digital media and the online environment has intrinsically changed the behavior of consumers. Increasingly, consumers have access to information on multiple platforms served to them on a digital silver platter. The consumption patterns of digital media hold the key to understanding what the new age consumer needs and consequently providing them with information that makes them return for more. However, the challenge remains to prevent the consumer from being overwhelmed by information fatigue. To understand the digital news consumer pattern, we conducted a research spread across two months on a sample a sample set of 35 users from various backgrounds who had one thing in common – They all were regular news consumers. The research was carried out extensively in several parts ranging from user observation, interviews, and group discussion. This white paper focuses on results from our research which includes how different the digital consumer is from a regular news reader, their preferred devices, habits, and annoyances. Through this, we were able to identify that the basic layout structure in news consumption cannot be categorized as a genetic pattern and oriented towards personalization and customization.

Introduction:

The digital landscape is evolving faster than ever before, and so are consumer attitudes, demands, and expectations. Technology permeates nearly every part of the day for many consumers, from checking a weather app first thing in the morning to taking a midday online shopping break. Instinctively, when it comes to a digital news consumer, he/she prefers a variety of mediums, a behavior pattern that is driven by the easy availability of information coupled with the ‘fear of missing out’. However, simultaneously we identified that users prefer small chunks of information as opposed to verbose news updates on mobile devices. Below, we have elaborated on our research at Kuliza, through we explored the digital news consumer’s responses and behaviour to help us understand the overall mindset of the consumers of digital media (news) and what they are looking for.

 Online News

 Despite the sudden and fast paced growth in digital readership, the news is an area where print media remains of critical importance. This is because the habits of our users when consuming information online differ significantly from reading print media. User behavior indicated that consumers prefer reading detailed information on print media where as shorter information chunks are popular amongst the digital readership. A content and design strategy that allows easy division of news into information chunks allows users to get an overview of the incoming information without having to dive deep into any particular news piece. This strategy enables users having access to all kinds of information reducing their fear of missing out.

Devices and Platforms

Consumers operated on various devices and platform throughout the day. Digital media is accessed via desktops, tablets, mobile phones, and wearable technology. Cross platform information availability was not just preferred but expected by our consumers. Seamless integration and flow of information across devices and platforms provides information to the consumers without having to lose context. This ensured retain the ability of the consumer in the long run.

Digital News 1

Personalization

 Consumers preferred local and hyper-local news to national and international news. Most consumers wanted to know more on news that personally affects their day-to-day life. Users preferred topics such as increasing fuel prices or telephone number portability to national scam involvements or international politics. Consumers also wanted to view news of their interest being specifically presented to them and prefer personalization in this aspect. Due to the continuous flow of updates and news coming in at regular intervals, it was essential to sift information deemed unnecessary and prioritize the content presented to the user in order to create value to consumers.

News Representation

Consumers’ expectations from digital media went beyond the way news is presented. They are often peeved by news representation that includes a cluttered layout, unclear navigation, and unnecessary sensationalism, long drawn articles that take up a lot of time. News representation plays a key role in retaining users in the long run. Our research indicated that most people prefer clear and concise news, which is a direct representation of facts. People are put off by news being presented in an opinionated manner and too much irrelevant news being presented to them continuously.

Habits

 Habits of the general populace are to be taken into consideration to understand deeply how consumers perceive digital media. Information constantly surrounded consumers in their day-to-day lives. Consumers no longer reserved time of their day to catch up on the news and expect it to be easily accessible while multi-tasking along with their day-to-day activities. A significant amount of participants of our research has the habit of catching up on their news while undertaking their daily commute or while having their meals. These habits needed to be incorporated into our design in order to be able to provide information that is simple, clearly articulated and easy to remember even for consumers with low attention span.

Language

Given the large demographic of the users in India, local language news was highly popular. With the majority of information consumers residing in semi-urban and rural areas, consumption of news in local languages is very high. We identified that consumers belonging to these demographics had a strong sense of attachment towards their native language along with high level of comfort in terms of readability and understanding. Given a scenario of choice, users maintained their association longer.

Annoyance

In addition to understanding what creates a positive experience for consumers, we understood that it was integral to ensure that the annoyances are removed when the user seeks information on digital media. Repeated notifications on new content arrivals are often seen as an annoyance. Advertisement banners and blocks that are intrusive and take the attention away from user’s main goal often add to the nuisance value. This can deter users from using digital media to obtain their daily source of news. It is highly necessary to reduce annoyances and eliminate them entirely if possible.

Digital News 4

Conclusion:

Digital media usage is growing and has the potential to capture a very large market segment especially in terms of information consumption. Understanding behavior patterns, goals, and motives of consumers helps us understand what consumers expect out of digital media and serve them in an optimal way. Through our research, we were able to conclude that while an easy division of news in short chunks assists our digital audience, it is essential to sift information deemed unnecessary and prioritize the content presented to the user in order to create value for them. This can be achieved by maintaining an uncluttered layout with well-balanced notifications, clear navigation with the concise news. What was also evident to us is that with the emergence of increasingly hyper-connected consumers today, the future of developing for the news consumer sits at the nexus of content, consumer behavior and technology. The only way we can bridge this gap is by making an effort to meet news consumers on their own terms.

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