The way we are engaging with the news is changing. In 2014, 60% of 16-34 year olds used the internet or smartphone apps to access news, compared to just 40% who bought newspapers. Older age groups, on the other hand, tend to be sticking with TV and newspapers for the majority of their news consumption, with just 21% of over 55’s using apps or the internet for this purpose.
The figures relating to app- and internet-based news are up on previous years, suggesting that we are increasingly turning to the digital world to learn what is going on in the real one. For journalists, these statistics cannot be ignored: it’s time to react accordingly.
A lot of resources are being poured into creating news that is smartphone ready, and for now, this is a clear necessity. But as the market for smartwatches begins to grow, the next challenge for journalists is to adapt content for a whole new audience.
The way that users engage with smartwatches is pretty different to the way we engage with our smartphones. We take a little more time over our phones, stopping to read articles on our commute, lunch break and downtime. With the smartwatch, however, we want brevity.
Smartwatch technology is about consuming information at a glance. We are likely to spend no more than a few seconds looking at our watch, and less prepared to spend time reading long texts from the device (at least at present). For longer sessions, we tend to head back to the smartphone.
It’s obvious that the media at large needs to turn its attention to how to engage audiences from the smartwatch: briefly, boldly and concisely. If journalists thought getting their message across in a tweet was tough, they really have their work cut out for them now.
Another challenge, of adapting the news for the wearable revolution, is about balance. Smartwatch users only want to be notified by genuinely interesting information. Interrupting users with frequent, uninteresting content will turn them right off. It will be a key aspect of future journalistic skills to learn the fine art of interrupting users usefully.
Finally, when it comes to design and brand presence, marketers, developers and designers face a new adventure, too. How do you build a distinctive brand identity that captures audiences in a second, made specially for a tiny screen? And how do you choose which content works best for the smartwatch audience? It may not necessarily be breaking news that gets the most attention. So, how do you determine what will?
These are all questions currently buzzing through the corridors of news outlets across the world. The birth of the smartwatch represents a game changer that may become as important as that of the smartphone. Just look how the smartphone market has developed in the last five years alone. What can we expect for the future of media consumption? If the smartwatch has anything to do with it, brevity will be the key.