Anyone taking the time to read this probably already knows what I’m about to tell them. In fact, the way that they’re reading this column likely supports everything we – the members of the email-illuminati – already believe about how people use devices, share, learn, and interact.
For the second year in a row, Pew Research in conjunction with Journalism.org has released a report on the use of mobile devices, specifically both tablets and smartphones. The study is free and easily accessible, but before you jump, there is some interesting meta information that came from the study. For publishers of news, it’s very encouraging.
The first finding is an important one for all publishers: email, for the second year in a row, is the number one app used on both smartphones and tablets. According to Pew, 65 percent of tablet users access email weekly on their tablet, with 44 percent checking in daily. In the case of smartphones, a whopping 80 percent of smartphone users check their email weekly, with 61 percent reporting daily email use.
The second finding – that news consumption is the second most popular activity on tablets and smartphones – closely tracks email usage. Sixty-four percent of tablet users and 62 percent of smartphone users consume news weekly on their devices, with tablets barely edging out smartphones in daily news consumption 37 to 36 percent.
If these two things were not encouraging enough so that news publishers might start to invest more in their outbound email programs, the Journalism.org story also reports that 49 percent of tablet users “notice” ads and 14 percent click on them. And why wouldn’t they?
There is a clear relationship between news consumption and trust. This relationship is paralleled between email and trust. The intersection of news and email is very compelling because in effect it is a “two-phase commit.” When you sign up to receive email from a news publisher, say The Wall Street Journal or The Washington Post, you are providing “affirmative consent.” This implies trust times two. And just as when you get a recommendation from a friend about a product, email subscribers are likely to trust the ad that is placed next to the news content that they have signed up to receive in their email inboxes, the central junction of their online existence.
There have been many jeremiads written about how the Internet was going to dethrone “big news” and replace it with bloggers. That may be the case, but be it a multinational news holding company, or just a guy writing a blog in a Starbucks, it’s increasingly likely that the news is going to be read on a smartphone or a tablet, and that it’s going to be delivered by email.
So to them I say: “News publishers! Start your mobile email monetization engines!”
If you are interested in the entire Pew Research report, which is very interesting, please find it here.
Email image on home page via Shutterstock.