By PATRICK MAYOYO
The use of social media for news has started to fall in a number of key markets after years of growth, according to the 2018 Digital News Report. The report, which covers 37 countries in five continents, reveals that usage is down six percentage points in the United States, and is also down in the UK and France.
Based on an online survey of 74,000 people, the 2018 report includes findings on trust, misinformation, paying for online news, television viewing trends, news, podcasting, adblockers and voice-activated assistants. For the first time, news literacy, and brand trust scores, in 37 countries, are included.
This year’s report reveals new insights about digital news consumption based on a YouGov survey of over 74,000 online news consumers in 37 countries including the US and UK.
The report focuses on the issues of trust and misinformation, new online business models, the impact of changing Facebook algorithms and the rise of new platforms and messaging apps.
Social media and messaging
The use of social media for news has started to fall in a number of key markets – after years of continuous growth. Facebook is down 9 percentage points in the US while use of alternative platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Snapchat are increasing. Read more on why messaging is on the rise
Paying for news
Nordic countries have seen significant increases in the numbers paying for online with Norway reaching 30%(+4), Sweden 26% (+6) and Finland 18% (+4).
Last year’s significant increase in digital subscriptions in the United States (the so-called Trump Bump) has been maintained, while donations and donation-based memberships are growing in popularity. Read more on donations and crowdfunding
Over half of those polled (54%) say they are very or extremely concerned about what is real and ‘fake’ on the internet. This is highest in countries like Brazil (85%), Spain (69%), and the United States (64%) where polarised political situations combine with high social media use. Read analysis on misinformation across countries
With Facebook looking to incorporate survey-driven brand trust scores into its algorithms, this report reveals scores for the most and least trusted brands in 37 countries based on similar methodologies.
Traditional news companies do better than digital born or partisan news brands. Which brands do we trust and why?
Use of smartphones and new devices for news consumption
The importance of smartphones – and our dependence on them – shows no sign of slowing down. On average 62% of our sample say they use the smartphone for news weekly (+6), only just behind the laptop/computer at 64%. In most countries, smartphone reach for news has doubled in six years.
Preference remains for text
In a number of countries we have been tracking content type preferences since 2014 and in all countries we still find an overwhelming preference towards reading rather than watching. The US has pushed furthest towards video with 12% saying they mostly consume news in video (+2), but even here 62% say they mostly prefer to consume in text.
This figure rises to 86% in Finland. There have been some changes over time (especially in the US and Spain), but these have been modest given the increase in exposure to video through social media.
The rise of audio and the role of podcasts
Podcasts have been around for many years but these episodic digital audio files appear to be reaching critical mass as a consequence of better content and easier distribution.
The New York Times has found success with its Daily Podcast, a 20-minute audio briefing, which has been downloaded more than 100m times.
In the UK, the BBC has hundreds of podcasts, most reformatted from radio output.
Connectivity is improving in cars, new audio devices are making discovery easier, while advertising and sponsorship opportunities are growing. Overall, a third of our entire sample (34%) listens to a podcast at least monthly but there are significant country differences.
Podcasts are twice as popular in Ireland (38%) as they are in the UK (18%) despite the BBC’s extensive, well-promoted, and high-quality podcast output. One theory is that podcasts tend to perform best in countries like the US (33%) and Australia (33%) where people spend a lot of time in their cars. The lower levels of usage in the Netherlands (18%) may relate to shorter commuting distances and more bike travel. But this can’t be the full explanation. Loyalty to radio, levels of supply, and the amount of promotion will also be important factors.