Local TV Stations, Newspaper Sites Slammed By Users
"Most online news sites have failed to take ownership of the images that are most important to online news consumers," according to knowDigital President Sam Milkman.
"These sites would benefit from a greater understanding of the images that matter most to their target consumers ... whether it's top headlines, traffic, weather, sports ... and greater focus on these attributes both on the sites themselves and in how they are marketed," Milkman said.
Another issue is that these companies are focusing on page-views as the single-most-important metric to evaluate success, which Milkman believes is misguided. By his estimation, page-views statistics provide no measure of the level of consumer engagement on any particular page -- or whether those views help or hurt a site's long-term brand image.
Simply reformatting or repurposing existing content assumes, incorrectly, that consumers want the same content in these digital environments as they do on TV or in print.
Specifically, knowDigital found that consumers perceive The Washington Post online to be very much like the newspaper -- for both good and bad attributes. In their view, WashingtonPost.com has tremendous credibility as a source for local and regional news.
Other consumers, however, complain that WashingtonPost.com is nothing more than an electronic version of the paper, lacking the visual attractiveness and graphic appeal of other sites.
Local Washington, D.C. television stations, meanwhile, fail to generate substantial online traffic because consumers think of them solely as broadcast TV brands. They do not expect them to have online versions, according to knowDigital.
More broadly, consumers view online news sites as utilities, lacking entertaining design and production elements, Milkman adds. What's more, the average consumer has not yet formed a deep connection with overall news sites, and therefore, their ability to form a bond with another vertical or sub-brand within these sites is very limited.
To arrive at its findings, knowDigital conducted a series of focus groups and one-on-one interviews among traditional and digital news media users. The focus groups and individual interviews were conducted in the Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham and Washington, D.C., markets.