Digital News Report from the University of Canberra Reiterates the Importance of Trusted News Brands

On June 30, 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic has heavily influenced digital consumer behaviour over the last two years. Digital news consumers, driven by the need to be constantly updated with information particularly during the lockdown periods, drove huge lifts in digital news content consumption.

As news content consumption has somewhat settled this year, it is a great time to take an in-depth look at the seventh annual 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 mid-January to late February.  This insightful report is free to download.

This research is not only useful for newsrooms and editorial leader but also incredibly useful for commercial leaders as well as marketers and agencies. The IAB’s Director of Research, Natalie Stanbury, has pulled out a few highlights for the IAB Australia community. 

The Report reiterates the importance of trust in news brands

The Report has found that 50% of respondents trust the news they personally consume, while 29% neither trust or distrust and 21% distrust.  Those who are heavy news users and who have high interest in news are more trusting. Also, those who believe news media are independent from undue political or commercial influence are much more likely to trust news.

Trust is of course a critical element in news outlets providing Australian citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, communities and governments. The media serves an important role as a public ‘watchdog’ through investigative reports, debate, discussion and analysis of news stories.

The Report’s findings on trust have commercial ramifications for publishers and marketers

Trust is also critical to news outlets remaining commercially robust and to the value they provide advertisers. The Report has found 18% of consumers have paid for online news in the last year. While digital news subscriptions are gradually growing, advertising continues to fund the bulk of content creation and with the retirement of third-party cookies, the collection of first-party data from consumers has a key role to play in that success.

The Report has found 17% of news consumers are signed up to email newsletters and less than a third (30%) of news consumers say they have registered to get full access to news content. The Report highlights that Australians trust online retailers with their data more than news outlets. About one-third (33%) say they trust online retailers to use their data responsibly, 30% trust news outlets and 23% trust social media companies.

Online retailers are more likely to have a transactional relationship with consumers than news outlets, but this data does suggest the media industry has some work to do in bolstering trust and confidence in consumers to provide their information.  An IAB research study by Ipsos released last year found that 87% of Australians said they were supportive of online content and service providers making their money from advertising where access to content remains free for consumers. 

However, 70% of respondents also indicated they were unaware of how online content providers make their money. Trusted media brands clearly communicating the digital data exchange with consumers is key. The IAB/Ipsos report found that transparency on what data is collected and how it is used is the key driver to a high level of trust in providing personal information, however sound corporate values (such as having a good corporate reputation and being ethical) are nearly equally key trust drivers. 

The IAB has also found advertisers benefit from high trust in news environments, as equity and goodwill sitting within these environments is transferred to the brands being advertised. IAB research by NeuroInsight during the covid pandemic, found that credible news media environments demonstrate strong attributes and can do some of the heavy lifting for advertising messaging by supplying ready-made attributes of timeliness, connection and trust in the minds of consumers.

The Report finds high interest in local news

The Report has found a range of news topics that interest Australians with local news topping the list (67% are interested in local news). International news was the next most popular category (56%) followed by news about coronavirus (51%) and political news (45%).

News consumers self-reported levels of interest in topics can be different to what they actually consume when browsing and stumbling across content on news websites and apps and content news outlets distribute on other platforms. Soon to be released, IAB endorsed Ipsos Iris content measurement data from passive panel metering will report the audience size and time spent on news content across a taxonomy of 28 news sub-categories.

The Ipsos Iris solution currently operating in the UK and endorsed by UKOM reports that after general news and weather, entertainment news is the next most popular news content in terms of unique audience size. In terms of time spent with news content after general news, sports news generates the highest engagement.   

 The Report finds podcast listening is an emerging way to access news

Mobile leads digital device ownership and digital content consumption and podcast listening is an emerging way to access digital news content. The Report found that a third (33%) of Australians say they have listened to a podcast in the last month. Younger Australians are much more likely to listen to podcasts with 55% of Gen Z and 54% of Gen Y saying they listened to a podcast in the last month.

Podcast listenership on specialist subjects and those about news has increased the most since 2019. 29% of under 35’s has listened to a podcast about a specialist subject (e.g. science, technology, business, media, health) and 20% of under 35’s have listened to a podcast about news, politics, or international events.

The IAB Audio Advertising State of the Nation Report has found that all podcast genres have benefited from increased investment over the last year with society & culture and news podcasts being most used podcast environments for advertisers.

Download a full copy of the ‘Digital News Report:Australia’ here.