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Research: Half of readers prefer editions over newsflow, and 30% will pay for their format of choice

Last year Twipe—the Belgian company specializing in Digital Publishing and ePaper Analytics—ran a research project which examined successful new digital formats for publishers. They released their findings in the first chapter of the Reinventing Digital Editions series, and highlighted 8 successful digital-only editions.

In the second phase of their multi-year research project, they studied the readers of digital news, and examined the motivation and habits of nearly 4,000 participants in six European countries and the United States. Through surveys and interviews of news readers across Europe and the US, Twipe’s researchers explored general news consumption habits and attitudes towards paying.

Their key finding was that half of all readers prefer to read digital news in an edition format, and this holds true across countries and age groups.

Edition vs. Newsflow

An edition is a bundled package of content, with a clear beginning and end; while a newsflow is a continuously updating stream of information.

Twipe’s research found that editions correspond to fundamentally different reader behaviors and needs. Edition readers are typically busier people who want to take time once a day to go through a package of news. They appreciate editorial selection and finishability.

Edition readers look less for free content and are more loyal to one news brand. Newsflow readers check the news more frequently, read in shorter sessions, and access more sources of news.

Based on this, the team at Twipe also developed a persona for edition readers versus newsflow readers:

In a nutshell, across countries and age groups, half of all news consumers prefer editions. They read 10-30 minutes per news session, prefer to be briefed on the overall news once a day, are less likely to seek out free news (less price sensitive), are more likely to read only one news source, and prioritize editorial selection, finishability, and in-depth analysis.

We believe in the power of editions. Our readers love the curated order, finite experience and editorial choice. In times of limitless information and limited time, editions provide the valuable service of selection and judgement.

Alan Hunter, Head of Digital at The Times & The Sunday Times

Another very interesting finding was that lack of news in specific format drives readers to pay for digital news. The most common reason people started to pay for online news was because they could not get news in the specific format otherwise (30.6%).

While the research clearly indicates that roughly half of all news consumers prefer to receive news in an edition format, the team was surprised by how well this key finding held up, irrespective of the age of the participants.

Perhaps one of the most eye-opening findings from our research is that the even preference for editions holds true across age groups.

This helps to disprove the myth that exists in the news industry that the edition format is preferred only in an older age group.

Based on their research findings, Twipe believes that edition-based publishing should be core to the strategy of every newspaper publisher.

Click here to download the full report