News online critical in Asia markets

A report commissioned by The Associated Press (AP) reveals how news providers can attract online audiences in Asian markets. The report, based on a survey of an online population of 4,500 respondents from China, Japan and Indonesia, shows that local and international news outlets can increase customer retention by meeting the growing demand for video news.

Produced by Deloitte, the business advisory firm, and conducted by market research leaders GfK on behalf of AP, the report finds that Asia has developed a unique appetite for news among Internet users compared to western media markets. For example, 98 per cent of respondents in Asia use a portal or aggregator on a regular basis. The report shows that Asia’s rapid adoption of digital content can provide clues for more mature and emerging media markets on how to differentiate from competitors and engage their audience.

“Our report looks across three quite different markets to understand how online news outlets can thrive in Asia,” said Maria Ronson, vice president of sales for Asia at AP. “This research confirms that, while there is no ‘one-strategy-fits-all’ for news providers’ online approach to the Asian market, there is a huge demand for engaging content.”

She added: “With audiences willing to experiment with multiple sources, especially on new devices, video news offers an important way of differentiating from the competition and building loyalty.”

Among the study’s key findings:

– Demand for content via mobile devices. In developing Asian markets, many consumers are moving online for the first time on a mobile device or tablet rather than via personal computer. In China, the research found 75 per cent of all survey respondents said they had accessed news on their mobile or smartphone. Nearly a third of the population owns a smartphone, and 16 per cent of the Chinese survey base has used apps to learn about breaking news. Eighteen per cent of Chinese consumers use a tablet and three-quarters use their device to watch a video news story at least two or three times a week.

– With tablet penetration increasing rapidly across the world, users may come to expect rich content tailored to their large-screen personal devices. Tablet users in Japan are more likely to watch news videos online than people using other devices, and are almost twice as likely to access video every day or most days, compared to smartphone owners. Among our Indonesian survey group, which represents more affluent, urban online consumers, 51 per cent have used a smartphone and 24 per cent a tablet to access news.

– The impact of video news. In most Asian countries video is critical in order to stand out in a crowded online market. 93 per cent of online news video users surveyed said that video is essential to an appealing news website or app, with 91 per cent claiming it improved their understanding of a story. The study also reveals what holds back audiences from watching video content online. In China and Japan, among those who didn’t watch online videos, an average of 39 per cent cited not enough videos available on topics of interest to them. While in Indonesia, 41 per cent will consider not watching video content because of a slow Internet connection. When connectivity improves, content providers must be ready to meet this latent demand.

– Analysing the online competition. The research found that news providers face a challenge to differentiate content in an increasingly competitive and accessible online market. 78 per cent of respondents to our survey told us that they often or always use more than one source for a given news story. On average, Chinese and Indonesian online news consumers will consult between four and five news websites on a story of interest. In contrast, the average UK consumer uses just two sites for day-to-day news. The desire to verify news by using multiple sources is greatest among higher socioeconomic groups, suggesting that as levels of education and income continue to rise, news outlets will have to work harder to differentiate themselves and maintain customer loyalty.

– Breaking news on social networks. In Asia social media is becoming a key source of breaking news for online populations. Among the countries surveyed, this trend is strongest in Indonesia, where 18 per cent of respondents look to share, discuss and verify news among their peers. Across the region, 9 per cent of consumers in Asia discover news through social media, compared with 4 per cent in Europe, suggesting people now instinctively incorporate social into their consumption of online content, including news. This is driven by a view among many Asian consumers that social media provides more up-to-date, accurate news and shows which stories are important to other people.

“This research highlights an exciting area of opportunity for news providers. The growth of mobile broadband networks and the availability of low-cost mobile devices in Asia means tens of millions of consumers are now able to discover and access a rich online media experience,” said Matthew Guest, Head of Digital Strategy for Deloitte Europe, “Our findings strongly suggest that online video will play a vital role in creating appealing news experiences for consumers in countries that are seeing a combination of economic growth, rising incomes and rapid improvements in communications infrastructure.”

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