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How news consumption is influenced by the introduction of mobile apps

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As everyone knows the rise of digital technology has changed completely media consumption. Traditional media have lost market share and news consumption has shifted to mobile content. The very business model of traditional media is at stake and the need to rethink the news offer has never been so high. Change is mandatory for those who don’t want to go bankrupt.

A recent paper published in the Journal of Marketing (the most renown academic magazine in the marketing field) sheds light on the adoption process of digital news consumption and how it affects a traditional media company as a whole. The study was done on the mobile app of Fox News and, in a nutshell, reaches the conclusion that the mobile app actually helps increase the traffic on the mobile news website. Rather than a cannibalization effect, we witness therefore a sort of virtuous circle.

The experiment

Jiao Xu and colleagues studied the introduction of the Fox News app in 2010 and analyzed whether consumers who adopted it increased or decreased their news consumption at the corresponding Fox News mobile website. To explain the heterogeneous results observed the consumer characteristics were explored.

This research is interesting because it’s an empirical one, i.e. it is based on real consumer data which allows the observation and interpretation of actual consumer behavior. This methodology contrasts sharply with “experiments” that are carried with so-called convenience samples (students, most of the time) that may not always be representative of the reality.

The results

Three main conclusions are proposed in this article :

  1. A positive traffic spillover from the Fox News app to its mobile news website
  2. The app adopters are more likely to visit the Fox News websites and consume content on both channels
  3. The segmentation analysis reveals difference between right-leaning and left-leaning users in their consumption patterns


This analysis suggests that a mobile app, rather than a threat for online visit statistics, may actually be an effective way for media companies to sustain their traffic levels.

This conclusion is further reinforced by the observed tendency of mobile app adopters to consume content on both channels. For advertisers , this has an important consequence. An ad placed across channels will most probably lead to repeated impressions on the same audience, and hence a higher memory effect.

Credits : picture courtesy of Shutterstock
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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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