Smartphones preferred device for news among affluent consumers says BBC


The results of a new survey for BBC World News shows a surge in smartphone use for consuming news among affluent consumers compared to the general population. The BBC defines “affluent consumers” as the highest 20 percent income earners in each country surveyed.

What the BBC describes as the world’s first study into the use of mobile by affluent consumers – over 6,000 such people were surveyed in Australia, Germany, Sweden, India, Hong Kong and the US – shows a 15 percent yearly increase in the amount of people who would prefer to use a phone to read the news compared to a 17 percent decline for desktop computers.

In terms of how those surveyed prefer to read the news on their smartphones, the results make that quite clear:

News apps are the most commonly used apps on affluent consumers’ mobile phones, whilst social network apps are favoured by the general population.

BBC News Android appBBC News Android app

Speaking as a smartphone user of the BBC News app for Android devices, my view is that the app must present the user with a compelling experience to not only read the news but also be able to easily share it across the social web. You’d also want to be able to customise the app to your preferences and have it automatically update the news for you even when it’s not open.

And you’d prefer such an app for news consumption and social sharing over other high-use apps such as social networking apps, and have the opportunity to use it for contributing news to the BBC if you want to.

The BBC’s News app does all that and more.

The survey presents more rich metrics on mobile usage by affluent consumers:

  • 51 per cent of affluent consumers use their mobile phone for business, compared to 40 per cent of the general population.
  • Affluent consumers are 18 per cent more likely to share their location to get relevant services than the general population.
  • A third of affluent consumers agree that, if a brand wants to be modern and dynamic, it needs to be on mobile – 15 per cent higher than the general population.
  • Mobile advertising is twice as effective as the proven desktop in driving key brand metrics such as awareness, favourability and purchase intent amongst the total population. This figure rises to four times as effective for affluent consumers.
  • High-income earners are as positive towards advertising on mobile (19 per cent) as desktop (18 per cent). The percentage who are happy to see ads on mobile websites rises to 41 per cent for sites where the content is free.

The BBC says that the results reveal the increasing importance of smartphones to affluent consumers and demonstrate the extent to which mobile devices are integrated into both their personal and their business lives, as improved technology enables greater engagement with content.

The study also provides evidence that affluent consumers – a large proportion of the BBC World News and audience – are significantly more receptive to mobile advertising than the general population.

(The focus on and talk about mobile advertising reflects the BBC’s commercial activity in markets outside the UK. Within the UK, we don’t see ads on any BBC property: the BBC gets its revenue from the annual license fee everyone has to pay – widely seen as a tax – plus a government grant.)

Earlier last year, the BBC released the results of a survey that, for the first time, measured news consumption habits across multiple devices – the so-called “second-screen experience.”

That survey offered some credible insights into the growing impact of TV, smartphones, tablets and laptops on the news consumption habits of more than 3,600 people surveyed in nine representative markets.

This latest survey reinforces key messages from that previous survey about the importance of mobile and smartphone usage to news organizations, advertisers and brand owners alike.

According to Jim Egan, CEO of BBC Global News:

This new research reveals significant change in mobile consumption – people are delving deeper into stories on their mobiles, consuming more video and, significantly, growing accustomed to advertising on their mobiles. This large study provides compelling evidence that mobile advertising works with affluent mobile consumers in particular and that has big implications for publishers and advertisers alike.

No doubt among the topics being discussed in Barcelona, Spain, this week at the 2014 Mobile World Congress.

Get an overview of the survey findings in this BBC infographic:

(Click for large infographic PDF)

BBC global survey shows evolving news consumption habits across multiple screens

Tablet owners watch more TV news...It’s doubtful that many people would disagree with the belief that our behaviours in how, where and when we consume content – the evolved way of saying what we used to describe as reading the papers, listening to the radio or watching TV – have shifted dramatically and permanently with the broad and deep penetration of technology, both hardware and software.

We’re exposed to research, surveys and opinions – much of it highly credible – to show us how our world of content creation and consumption is changing in ways that we could hardly believe likely at the turn of the century just over a dozen years ago.

One area that is constantly on the attention radar is largely to do with the ‘how’ of news consumption. It’s not only about the TV any more: it’s also about computers, tablets and smartphones, separately and used in conjunction with one another.

This is the so-called second-screen experience that is already evolving into three or more screens as multiple-device ownership and usage become more common with greater access to the tools, greater understanding of what you can do with them and greater quantities of content to consume and share opinion about.

The results of a global survey conducted by InSites Consulting for BBC World News and, published yesterday, offer some credible insights into the growing impact of TV, smartphones, tablets and laptops on people’s news consumption habits in nine representative markets.

The BBC doesn’t say when the survey took place but I assume it was very recently, perhaps late in 2012 or earlier this year.

Over 3,600 owners of digital devices in Australia, Singapore, India, UAE, South Africa, Poland, Germany, France and the US were surveyed; the BBC says they were top income earners and owners of at least three devices amongst television, tablet, smartphone and laptop/desktop.

Here are a few of the key findings from the BBC’s survey (scroll down to see a visual summary in the neat infographic the BBC produced):

  • Tablet owners watch more TV news, not less, with 43 percent of tablet users saying they consume more TV than they did five years ago, and most saying they use tablets alongside TV.
  • Young professionals, the 25-34 year old demographic are the biggest news enthusiasts.
  • Second screening for news is becoming commonplace, with users often using devices in tandem. 83 percent of tablet users say they have used their tablets while watching television.
  • TV still dominates overall usage, taking 42 percent of people’s news consumption time compared with laptops (29 percent), smartphones (18 percent) and tablets (10 percent).
  • News audiences expect to see advertising nearly as much on mobile (79 percent tablet, 84 percent smartphone) as they do on TV (87 percent) and online (84 percent).
  • People respond to advertising across all the screens, with 1 in 7 users indicating they responded to a mobile ad in the last four weeks whilst responses to TV and desktop are 1 in 5 and 1 in 4 respectively.

Some of the other metrics the BBC published relate to breaking news and where people prefer to find it, and the type of news they prefer to watch:

[…] The survey also found that, in breaking news situations, users turn to television as their primary and first device (42%), with the majority (66%) then turning to the internet to investigate stories further. Users rated national and international news of most importance (84%, 82%), closely followed by local news (79%). Financial and business news (61%) were more highly valued than news about sports (56%) and arts/entertainment news (43%).

I’m not surprised at any of those metrics, perhaps because they broadly reflect how I see those situations and how I think many of my friends and colleagues see them.

One conclusion is worth considering, from Jim Egan, CEO of BBC Global News Ltd:

“There’s been speculation for years that mainstream uptake of smartphones, laptops and tablets will have a negative impact on television viewing, but this study has found that the four devices actually work well together, resulting in greater overall consumption rather than having a cannibalising effect.”

Points to ponder especially for advertisers and marketers.

See the survey metrics in the BBC’s infographic, below.

BBC's Connecting The Story infographic

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Getting a grip on the lurching crisis at the BBC

georgeentwistleWatching events this weekend that make up the still-unfolding crisis at the BBC has been an experience of mixed emotions, ranging from bewilderment to despair to resignation (in two senses of that word).

Much of that surrounds the (now ex) Director-General George Entwistle, pictured, an honourable man whose short tenure in the job did little that demonstrated that BBC leadership had a firm grip on matters.

At the heart of this crisis right now are two specific investigations:

  1. A police-led criminal investigation into allegations of child sex abuse by the deceased BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile – and possibly (probably) BBC staff and others – since the 1950s that burst into public light in October following the broadcast of an investigative report by ITV’s current affairs programme Exposure. That followed a BBC editorial decision not to go ahead with its own investigative report on the BBC’s Newsnight current affairs programme.
  2. An investigation into allegations of child abuse in north Wales children’s homes in the 1970s and 1980s, ordered by the Prime Minister, following broadcast of a BBC Newsnight programme on November 2 that alleged involvement by a prominent Conservative MP from the 1980s; he wasn’t named in the programme but his identity subsequently emerged. He denies such allegations and there’s a lot of talk about legal action against the BBC.

See these two Wikipedia entries for detailed accounts of these awful events:

In the midst of this poisonous mixture has been mounting criticism and questions over the leadership of the BBC, how the editorial processes and procedures work, even the very structure and future of the organization as an independent public service broadcaster.

All of that came to a head on Saturday evening when the Director-General George Entwistle resigned in the face of insistent criticisms of his leadership and growing calls for his resignation. He’s been replaced in the interim by Tim Davie, a BBC man with a marketing background who’s due to be CEO of BBC Worldwide, the BBC’s commercial enterprise, on December 1 – less than three weeks’ away.

What seems to have been the final straw for Entwistle was his disastrous performance in a 15-minute interview on the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs radio show Today on Saturday morning.

The interviewer was the show’s co-host John Humphrys, a veteran journalist with a reputation as one who takes no prisoners in his hand-to-hand combat style of interviewing on live radio he brings to bear at times, especially with politicians and business leaders – and it was on full display on Saturday morning.

I listened to the interview and it was a painful experience. It became clear to me, if it hadn’t already, that George Entwistle – an honourable and decent man, facts of which I have no doubt – was woefully out of his depth. Not only in participating in an interview of this type but also on the fundamental and far more critical issue of leadership and knowing what was going on – and with the latter, it became clear he didn’t seem to know much.

As I listened, I wondered how on earth the man at the top of this organization could come to such an important interview so seemingly unprepared. My thoughts focused on a specific aspect of Entwistle’s leadership behaviour, all to do with his apparent detachment from fast-moving events.

Take this segment, for instance, from the transcript of the interview, in which Humphry’s asks Entwistle when he knew about the north Wales abuse report and whether he’d seen a tweet that was posted before the programme was broadcast, which flagged up that it would be making some serious allegations:

[Read more…]

Does the BBC really have the courage to come clean?

SavileTOTPUnless you sit atop a remote mountain or cast yourself away on a desert island, and as long as you have no means of digital connectivity with you, it’s impossible to avoid seeing and hearing about Jimmy Savile.

The continuing reporting on the revelations about the late alleged child abuser is relentless. Each day, more stories emerge of what the man did who used his status as a TV entertainer, charity fundraiser and society do-gooder as a cover for the sexual abuse he’s accused of meting out to young girls (typically), all accompanied by constant questions about how he managed to get away with it all over a period spanning more than four decades.

During much of that time, Savile worked for the BBC – and the broadcaster is squarely at the centre of a mega-scandal so awful it stabs our society in its very heart. It’s also one of global interest. Indeed, some of the most intelligent analytical reporting on the matter as it affects the BBC is in a Reuters report on October 25 which explores the aspect of trying to find out who in the BBC knew what about Savile and his behaviours, spotlighting the key issue:

[…] The BBC scandal is so long-running, so multifaceted and so sordid that it could potentially injure everyone who has worked at the organization over the past 40 years – up to Thompson but including the janitors who clean the BBC’s studio dressing rooms – even if they’re guilty of nothing.

The ‘Thompson’ mentioned by Reuters – a key focus in their report – is Mark Thompson, Director-General (equivalent to CEO in the broad business world) of the BBC until he quit in August 2012 to take up a new job as CEO of the New York Times Co next month.

Thompson’s successor, George Entwistle, has had a true baptism of fire with the Savile crisis since taking up his job in September. He’s under fierce criticism on many sides for his lacklustre handling of the whole affair. On October 23, he was grilled by members the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport. From watching much of it live on TV, my impression was of a man who undoubtedly is well-meaning and, well, nice, but is out of his depth with trying to manage this crisis.

Still, Entwistle is the man currently in charge of the BBC. Part of his job is leading the organization in the face of what some are calling the most serious crisis confronting the BBC in half a century. Looking at what’s going on at the moment, I think that’s a valid description.

Yet while the current leader is where the buck stops today, the Savile crisis spans so many years; and – as the Reuters report puts it – it is so long-running, multifaceted and sordid, leaders going back over the decades must also shoulder substantial shares of the pain being borne by “the janitors who clean the BBC’s studio dressing rooms.”

Without doubt, this is a time of pain, not only for the BBC but also for this country as our faith, trust and belief in an institution that is part of the very fabric of our society is being tested, on a daily basis.

More pragmatically, the Savile revelations and the subsequent accusations swirling around the BBC match the definition of a smouldering crisis:

These are situations when leaders are blamed for the crisis and its subsequent effect on the institution in question.

Sadly, it’s only another facet of what seems to be ingrained behaviour by some in positions of power and influence in our society and an ugly trend: add it to phone hacking, corporate selfishness and the cynicism of politicians – the resulting picture is a messy one.

Can the BBC in particular emerge from the desperate place in which people, and the acts and events they’re responsible for, have dumped it? I don’t think there’s a prospect of effective crisis management – let alone any talk of healing, any talk of “corporate catharsis” – until all the dirt is dished. Even then, it may be too awful to manage without significant structural change in the organization.

Today, BBC chairman Chris Patten says he’s determined to get to the bottom of it all. Does he and the overall leadership have the courage to really come clean?

(Image via Music Week)

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Making a video viral

todayviral The headline above is deliberate in the order in which I put the two key words: ‘video’ and ‘viral.’

I hear a lot of talk about viral videos, as in “We’re creating a viral video.” And my new favourite which I heard last week: “We’re going to viral the campaign.”

(Proof that you can do amazing things with the English language.)

The latest such talk is today and the Inside Today video created by the Rubber Republic agency for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Much of the talk I see online is about creating a viral video. But there’s no such thing as ‘creating a viral video’!

You can create a video, which is what Rubber Republic have done for the Today programme. If enough people start talking about the video online, and linking to it, it might enjoy a viral effect with talk spreading via a variety of communication channels.

The Wikipedia definition of ‘viral video’ makes the point:

A viral video is a video clip that gains widespread popularity through the process of Internet sharing, typically through email or Instant messaging, blogs and other media sharing websites.

That’s what’s happening today – plenty of online talk about the video generating a lot of buzz. So it seems to be enjoying a viral effect although it’s arguable that such talk isn’t really widespread, but mostly via Twitter and tracked on the hashtag #todayviral.

Let’s get our terminology and understanding right. And maybe help the Today programme, who say they are doing this as an experiment to see how viral ads work.

Hopefully, they’ll share their learning soon.