It’s time newspapers woke up to tablets

More than one in four UK adults owns a tablet, according to a report by the Media Briefing.

It adds that by this time next year the figure will be one in three.

That is a remarkable technological change certain to bring further disruption to the media industry.

Food for thought on a day in which the latest ABC report provided another reminder, if one were needed, of the importance to newspapers of having a visionary digital strategy. Total paid-for regional newspaper circulation (dailies and weeklies) fell by more than six per cent in the second half of 2012 while use of those regional websites that reported to ABC rose by 17 per cent.

One of the interesting aspects of tablet use is that it peaks during the morning commute and again at home in the evening. Desktop and laptop PCs, meanwhile, are still the favoured way to get online during the day.

This begs the question: are newspapers doing enough to tailor their content to the time of day it is being viewed, and the type of device being used?

The answer, in most cases, is no.

The majority of readers of regional newspaper websites are merely served up a ‘lead’ story together with whatever stories happen to be churning through the site at that moment regardless of the time of day.

But might a deliberately hard news agenda be more appropriate at the beginning of the day, moving to either a lighter or more analytical offering by lunchtime?

Should content such as videos that lend themselves well to tablets be pushed harder in the mornings and evenings?

Is there a time best devoted to hooking in an audience, and another to pushing advertisements to them?

Questions that become more pressing with each new set of ABC figures.


About John Wilson

Editor of Hereford Times, Ludlow Advertiser, Stroud News and Journal, Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard and Gloucestershire Gazette series. Journalist for more than 30 years.
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