The continued growth in daily internet users has seen a gradual change to the manner with which Internet users choose to consume media and news. With users now logging online more frequently, news outlets and journalists have continued to look more towards online channels through which to connect with their audience, and in turn have begun to abandon traditional means of media distribution as habits change.
One of the leading influencers in bringing more people to use online avenues is the growth of social networks. As user numbers of networks such as Facebook and Twitter have continued to grow, so have the number of news agencies, personnel and journalists who utilise these services and look to communicate their work and stories online. Whilst many media channels look towards Facebook to promote the brand as a whole, be it a newspaper or news channel, for example, many journalists look towards Twitter to add a more personal feel to their outreach and engagement with readers. Of course, they may not always look to post solely about their work, but this offers a great platform through which the journalists can gain information, and through which their followers can consume their stories.
Further to this, social media has seen such a strong growth over the past few years thanks in part to the success and enormous popularity of smartphones. As smartphone popularity has grown, so has the ease of access to these networks and the Internet as a whole. Consumers can now access news stories with ease, whether through browsers on their handsets, or dedicated news applications downloaded from the smartphone’s app store. Many of the leading broadcasters and newspapers now have their own mobile apps, allowing users to access the latest stories and updates as they happen, rather than waiting to buy a newspaper the following day.
Coupled with this growth of the mobile market, newspaper websites have also continued to see a growth in popularity, as consumers look to access news as and when it happens. Figures for April 2011 illustrate how popular some of these online news portals have become. MailOnline, the Daily Mail’s website, averaged 3.60 million unique browsers daily throughout April, as well as both The Guardian and The Telegraph website receiving 2.41 million and 1.93 million unique daily browsers respectively.
These figures and findings clearly illustrate how consumers are continuing to look towards digital channels to consume news and media. As traditional media sources such as newspapers and television stations are seeing a loss in readers and viewers respectively, the popularity of online media channels has done nothing but continued to increase. This growth illustrates the need for brand marketers and PR agencies to move their focus towards these digital channels. As the very sources of news and information look more towards digital channels, marketers need to adhere to this trend and look to market their brands online to try and capture this ever-growing online audience.