Wednesday, October 17, 2012

comScore releases readership study that reinforces notion that tablet owners are reading newspapers and magazine on their devices, though less than a majority are doing so

A new study released today by comScore shows that 37.1 percent of tablet owners are reading newspapers on their tablets at least once a month, while 39.6 percent are reading magazines.

Kindle Fire owners are slightly more likely to be reading periodicals on the their tablets – 39.2 read newspapers, 43.9 percent are reading magazines – that iPad owners. But this should not be a surprise as the Kindle Fire is the tablet sister of the Kindle eBook reader and many owners of older Kindles have migrated to the Kindle Fire. In any case, the two rates are close, with 38.2 percent of iPad owners reading a newspaper at least once during the month, and 40.3 percent reading a magazine.

"Tablets are fundamentally redefining how people consume news and information, with the format more conducive to reading longer form content than PCs or smartphones," Mark Donovan, comScore SVP of Mobile, said in the companies own announcement of the study.

"In the case of online newspapers, tablets are now driving 7 percent of total page views, an impressive figure considering the relative infancy of the tablet space. Publishers that understand how these devices are shifting consumption dynamics will be best positioned to leverage this platform to not only drive incremental engagement among current subscribers but also attract new readers," Donovan said.

The bar is set pretty low here, however. A skeptic could say that less than half of tablet owners are using their devices for newspaper and magazine reading. The study, though, is of tablet owners 13 years or older, not exactly the target audience of most publishers.
Daily use of the tablet to read across the survey was around 12 percent with no real difference reported between tablets – iPad, Android, Kindle Fire and NOOK.

NOOK owners appear to use their tablets slightly more for reading periodicals, but again, this may be a reflection of the nature of the device – a tablet marketed as a reading device as opposed to an all purpose tablet like the iPad.

For those interested in promoting advertising inside tablet magazines, the study has some good news. The sweet spot for tablet reading appears to be the 25-34 age group, when it comes to newspaper and magazine reading. But the study does not break out whether this group is using their devices more for this activity – that is, what is the frequency of reading versus others.

Continuing studies need to look also at the nature of the publications being read. One can assume, one would think, that more replica editions are being read on tablets other than the iPad due to the number of replicas available. While iPad owners are more likely to have native tablet editions available to them, will studies find that these are preferred and read more frequently than replicas?

Additionally, how does one define a newspaper on a tablet? Is the New York Times for iPad a newspaper? Its content derives from the paper's website, after all. While other newspaper apps mimic the look and feel of the print edition.