How do we know if our audiences are satisfied? What they really want? Does what they want change when they are on their smartphones or on the Web? Or do they just want more, faster, wherever they are?

These questions and more have lingered inside media organisations for years, accelerated by the monumental growth of traffic from mobile and through tablets to our Web sites and apps.  

How can we be sure we are giving them the news and information that will engage them and keep them coming back – all while balancing the realities of a changing media business model?

Postmedia recently embarked on a national proprietary research project designed to provide our editorial teams with insights into our audiences and their content consumption across platforms specific to the brand in each local market we serve.  

The research surveyed more than 17,000 Canadians on their news and information consumption across print, Web, smartphone, and tablet, and included demographic and psychographic questions on lifestyles, attributes, and behaviours.

The results provided a clear and noticeably different primary demographic readership for each platform, which was to be expected. However, it also delivered a unique picture of the audience’s desire for distinct content on different platforms.  

Here’s how the analysis of the research looked:

Each of the four graphs represents content readership and relevance for the indicated demographic profile across the four platforms of print, Web, smartphone, and tablet.

The bars on the left side represent the percentage of readership of each content stream (the larger the bar, the higher the percentage) i.e., sports, local news, international news, arts and life, etc. The circles on the right indicate the level of relevance (indexed) of that content stream among those platform readers (e.g., smartphone, ages 18-34) who consume it.  

The closer to the centre the dot is, the more relevant that content stream is to the specific audience demographic.  

This data, along with the audience behaviours and attributes, was then used to build three unique audience personas for each platform (print, Web, smartphone, and tablet). Now displayed in every Postmedia newsroom across Canada, they paint a picture and provide a daily reminder to our journalists of the distinct audiences they are writing for. 

Understanding audiences across platforms is the key to creating unique, compelling, and engaging news and information.

Here’s what we learned:  

  • Audiences for each platform are clearly unique – different demographics, lifestyles,  and attributes drive different consumption behaviour.

  • Audiences want particular content on different platforms at various times of the day.

  • All content is not created equally – readership and relevance go hand in hand; a small number of readers can find a specific stream of content highly relevant, but is the audience big enough?

  • Readers can, when asked, clearly articulate what they want, where, and when.

  • The battle will be won with local news – local publishers understand their cities, communities, and issues.

  • Distinct audiences don’t need, want, or value all content on all platforms.

  • Know when to stake your ground. We can’t be everything to everyone; we need to find what we are good at and do it well.

  • Paint a picture – seeing the faces of our audiences across platforms leads to more engaging storytelling.

  • Our newsrooms want to give their audiences what they want – engaging them in the conversations on how best to do that will lead to success.