Tablets Turn Users Into News Junkies

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A new study by and Starcom MediaVest suggests tablets encourage more avid news consumption and stronger relationships between users and news sites they frequent.

Nearly eight in 10 tablet owners (78%) say they read more stories and follow a greater variety of news topics than before, and about half (48%) rely on news apps.

Because of the device’s immersive quality and visual elements, about 80% found the overall news experience on a tablet to be an improvement over a PC or mobile phone. Almost two-thirds (63%) said stories feel “more real" and bring them closer to what’s happening, given the tablet touchscreen and other interactive features.

The research also indicates that tablets foster closer ties to content.

In that vein, 69% of tablet owners said knowing and trusting the news site and source is more important than ever, and 63% said they turn to traditional news sources more than news aggregators. (Keep in mind that the study was commissioned by a traditional news provider.)

Beyond catching up on the news, seven in 10 study participants said their tablet had become part of their daily routine, and 62% noted that it allows them to do things more efficiently.

“Tablets are not only replicating behaviors of existing platforms, they’re also creating new behaviors and expectations among owners -- relegating phones and laptops/desktops to specific functions with tablets becoming the primary news device,” according to the report.

The three-phase study, conducted by research firm Latitude, included informal in-depth phone interviews, a 20-minute online survey with about 1,100 U.S. adults ages 18-54 (88% of whom were current tablet owners), and a week-long deprivation study of tablet owners. There was also an immersion study for people who didn’t yet own tablets. All those involved were news consumers.

“With these findings, content providers and advertisers can design new experiences to have the most meaning and relevance among tablet news enthusiasts, such as offering more opportunities to customize, interact, and engage with stories and ads,” stated Kate Sirkin, Starcom Mediavest’s executive vice president of Global Research.

The research comes as Apple debuts its Newsstand feature with the release of iOS 5, which includes apps from news publishers including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph and the San Francisco Chronicle. It also launches with magazines such as Wired, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. Publishers are counting on increased visibility through Newsstand to sell more subscriptions through Apple devices.

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