What We’ve Learned About News Consumer Behavior: 5 Videos

Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center is conducting groundbreaking research using large data sets on consumer behavior.

Spiegel’s study of 13 terabytes of data from the Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and Indianapolis Star has been one of the major achievements of the Medill Local News initiative, which was formed in the Spring of 2018 to help the news industry find financial sustainability. Spiegel is part of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

In these five videos for the IMC Thought Leaders project, Spiegel Research Director Ed Malthouse discusses major issues addressed in Spiegel’s research.

Malthouse on the Importance of Local News (1:21)

How can local news outlets make themselves more valuable to consumers? Spiegel’s research shows that mimicking other news products doesn’t work. Finding your own unique strengths does.

Malthouse on Customer Reading Intensity (1:25)

A surprising Spiegel research finding is that “intense” consumption – reading a lot of articles on a website per day of reading – sometimes makes it more likely that consumers will drop their subscriptions. Malthouse wonders whether a steady delivery of annoying ads may help explain this phenomenon.

Malthouse on Regularity in Subscription Models (1:18)

Spiegel’s research suggests news outlets should encourage regular visits – preferably daily – by their subscribers rather than “intense” reading when they do visit.

Malthouse on Ad-Free Consumer Experiences (1:56)

Should news websites offer ad-free or “ad-lite” environments? Malthouse says a study indicates that “the more people use ad blockers, the more they want to stay around on your site.”

Malthouse on Consumer Engagement (1:34)

What is the secret to optimal consumer engagement? Malthouse says both customers and companies benefit when consumers can connect a product back to their life goals.

More IMC Thought Leaders videos can be found in this playlist.

About the project

What Drives People to Pay for Local Journalism

Medill’s Spiegel Research Center (SRC), a leader in consumer and audience-based research that drives financial outcomes, is analyzing many terabytes of anonymous data about reader behavior and customer motivation at three Learning Labs – the Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and Indianapolis Star. The goal: Identify what content and behaviors drive consumers to engage with and pay for local news.

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