Digital News Report From The University Of Canberra provides an insightful deep dive into motivations and attitudes to news

On June 19, 2024

Written by IAB Australia Research Director, Natalie Stanbury

Looking back over the last year at our monthly coverage of digital news audience ratings from IAB endorsed Ipsos iris, there are so many events that have driven elevated audience to news websites and apps from the serious hard news through to the lighter end of the spectrum and everything in between. More Australians have been turning to digital news and consuming more of it. In this constant cycle, it’s important to take an in-depth look at Australian’s behaviour and attitudes to news with the release of 10th addition of the Digital News Report: Australia from The News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra. This year’s digital news consumer survey was conducted over January and February 2024. This insightful report is free to download.

This research is not only useful for newsrooms but also important for commercial leaders, marketers and agencies to understand the news environment that is predominantly advertising funded (according to the Report, paying for online news remains at 21% and growth has stalled).

Taking a look at some of the highlights from the report I have included data from the industry standard Ipsos iris audience measurement system that passively measures digital content consumption. Passively tracked behaviour can in some cases show a brighter picture than self-reported behaviour. In categorising online content for ratings purposes, the definition of what is news has always been hard to pin down. In a self-reported survey, news is what the respondent perceives it to be.

The news is important to keep us up-to-date and to help us learn about topics and events

The Digital News Report outlines most Australians (80%) say news is important to keep them updated about what is going on and help them learn about topics and events (74%). This year, more than half of Australians (51%) access news more than once a day. Ipsos iris reports that there are 20.7 million Australians who accessed a news websites or app on Smartphone, computer or tablet in April 2024 and that’s up 2% on same month last year[1].

The Report shows demographic variation in relation to news consumption, news interest, trust, and news avoidance. The Report notes a widening gender gap on these aspects and that men (63%) are much more likely to be heavy news consumers than women (46%).  Ipsos iris supports that men spend slightly more time than women on average with digital news, however there are similar numbers of women and men consuming news each month. According to Ipsos iris, 97% of online women access digital news and spend on average 273 minutes per month, compared to 96% of online men who access and spend 317 minutes per month[2]. Ipsos iris measures audience on news websites and apps on Smartphone, computer or tablet and includes distributed news content on social media such as Apple News, Google News, Facebook etc.

Both sources indicate women have some stronger areas of interest in news and motivations that can be leveraged to deepen engagement with content and advertising on news websites.  The Report highlights that women have much greater interest in news about mental health and wellness, lifestyle or culture and entertainment. Women are more likely to say it is important for news to offer practical information and advice for daily life and encourage a more positive view of the world, compared to men.

The data continues to confirm that quality journalism and transparency are the most important trust factors

As in many areas of society and business, increasingly AI is driving innovation in media, marketing and advertising. The Report highlights the usage of AI in the production of journalism, particularly for more generic types of stories, such as sports results, the production of headlines and summaries. It is also used for the personalisation of news. The Report highlights some of the worry with the adoption of AI, finding that while 44% of Australians are very or quite aware of AI, Australians are more uncomfortable with AI producing news (59%) than consumers in most other countries (45%). Higher levels of comfort with the use of AI in news production are directly related to both higher levels of awareness of AI and higher levels of trust in news.

While the Australian Government’s Response to Safe and Responsible AI Consultation is looking at ways to maximise the opportunities that AI presents, it is also reviewing mandatory safeguards where appropriate and working with industry on voluntary AI safety standards. It is incumbent on all areas of media and marketing to ensure that AI systems being developed or deployed are safe and secure and understood by consumers and audience, including news organisations increasing transparency about their use of AI in news production.

Audiences (and advertisers) turn to audio and video-based formats 

The Report highlights that three in four (75%) say they have watched short online news videos, followed by longer online news videos (62%) and live online video streams (59%). It also found online news video users are generally more satisfied with the news that is on offer.

Ipsos is currently developing audience measurement of the full Australian digital video viewing landscape across all screens, but Ipsos iris data already supports the finding on audience engagement with news video. For April 2024, Ipsos iris reports that nearly 11 million Australians watched news video on news organisations websites and apps across Smartphone, computer, tablet and BVOD connected TV[3].

The Report also provides information on podcast listening that continues to grow with a 2-percentage point increase from last year (40%), marking a 7pp increase since 2022. While the use of voice-activated speakers (29%) remains relatively low, a considerable portion of these users access news on these devices. Nearly half of voice-activated speaker users (42%) report using these devices to get news.

The latest IAB Australia Online Advertising Expenditure Report for the quarter ending March 2024 prepared by PwC Australia highlights that despite a softening ad market, advertisers are increasing investment in video and audio advertising formats, with double digit growth in ad spend year-on-year[4]. Agencies are investing in a range of podcast environments, 34% of agencies surveyed in the IAB’s Audio Advertising State of the Nation Survey 2024 have advertised in a news podcast in the last year [5]. 

News continues to be critical for society and a vibrant and diverse environment for brands to engage and inform.

There is a lot more in-depth data and insight available in the full Digital News Report: Australia from The News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra. You can also find further online news consumption data from Ipsos iris in IAB nickables charts and in Ipsos iris digital news audience rankings highlighted in our monthly media releases.


[1] Ipsos iris Online Audience Measurement Service April 2024, Age 14+, PC/laptop/smartphone/tablet, News category, Audience (000’s), Audience (000s) year on year April 2023 v April 2024

[2] Ipsos iris Online Audience Measurement Service April 2024, Age 14+, PC/laptop/smartphone/tablet, News category, Average time per person (minutes)

[3] Ipsos iris Online Audience Measurement Service April 2024, Age 14+, PC/laptop/smartphone/tablet/CTV, OzTam Published Database, News Category, Video Audience (000s)

[4] IAB Australia Online Advertising Expenditure Report, prepared by PwC Australia quarter ending March 2024

[5] IAB Australia Audio Advertising State of the Nation Report 2024