Research Briefing: News publishers reach Gen Z on social platforms

This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

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In this week’s Digiday+ Research Briefing, we examine how Gen Z consumes the news, how publishers are less likely to depend on subscriptions revenue this year, and how AI and influencer marketing are hot topics at CES 2024, as seen in recent data from Digiday+ Research.

51% of younger Gen Zers get news from social media or messaging

In an effort to tap into the fast-growing Gen Z audience, news organizations are increasingly meeting this generation where they consume news — on social platforms. Members of Gen Z  —  those born between 1997 and 2012 —  have spent their entire lives with access to a digital world and they nearly exclusively discover breaking news on their smartphones, while scrolling through social apps like Instagram or X. According to a Reuters study, 39% of social natives ages 18 to 24 use social media as their main source of news, versus 34% who prefer to go directly to a news website or app. 

This trend is even more pronounced among younger Gen Z teens under age 18, with just over half of this group (51%) saying they get news daily from social media feeds or messaging services and 40% saying they get news daily from search engines, according to Deloitte Insights. Although fewer Gen Z adults (ages 18 to 24) use social media or messaging services to get their daily news — a third of the group (33%) said this —  and even slightly less (32%) said they use search engines, these were still their most used channels for news consumption.

Gen Z’s news consumption habits have changed how news stories spread, with the Gen Z audience sharing and reposting stories across social networks. As a result, news organizations are adapting, often with unique content formatted for each individual platform.

Insights and stats:

  • “Brands are going to have to figure out how to produce content that looks and feels more like creator content, which means it’s probably going to be less produced, less edited, and perhaps less editorialized.” — Christina Capatides, vp of social media and trending content for CBS News
  • TikTok, in particular, has been capturing Gen Z’s attention as a news source. Nearly a third of U.S. adults under 30 (32%) regularly get news from TikTok, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
  • “In order for us to be programming to the Gen Z audience, we need to find them where they are. And it’s the platforms that they are used to — and trust — which is social media.” — Lulu Chiang, vp of digital at ABC News

Read more about Gen Z’s news consumption habits

Digiday+ Research digest

It’s shaping up to be an interesting year for publishers’ subscriptions revenues. More publishers are making money from subscriptions, but subscriptions are accounting for a smaller portion of revenues overall heading into 2024. This is according to Digiday+ Research surveys of 355 publisher professionals. Digiday’s surveys also found that publishers’ focus on the subscriptions part of their business is showing signs of waning. 

The stats:

  • Nearly three-quarters of publisher pros (74%) said in the second half of 2023 that they got at least a very small portion of their revenue from subscriptions, up from 62% in the first half of the year.
  • However, in the back half of 2022, 28% of publisher pros told Digiday that subscriptions accounted for a large or very large portion of their revenue. By the first half of 2023, that percentage fell to 21%, before falling even further to 11% in the second half of 2023.
  • Thirty-seven percent of publisher pros said in the back half of 2023 that building their subscriptions businesses would be a large or very large focus in the next six months, down from 39% at the beginning of 2023, 43% in Q3 2022 and 44% in Q1 2022.

Read more about publishers’ subscriptions revenues

While AI is the dominant theme at CES in Las Vegas this week, the annual trade show has grown past its tech-heavy roots. Omnicon is announcing a variety of partnerships at CES that will foster the agency holding company’s efforts to measure and benchmark influencers’ and creators’ presence on platforms. A November 2023 Omnicom study found that YouTube is singularly strong across the entire purchase journey, for example. And many creators and brands are experimenting with YouTube Shorts in particular to expand their social media reach, according to a Digiday+ Research YouTube Shorts case study.

Insights and stats:

  • Early adopters and consistent YouTube Shorts users benefit from high viewer engagement. On average, the 11 influencers included in Digiday’s case study, who all posted Shorts content in 2022, received over 128,000 views per Shorts video posted.
  • Tutorials were the most common type of Shorts videos posted by the influencers, and routine videos were the most popular type of Shorts among viewers — viewed on average over 400,000 times. This type of content performs best for viewers who want to incorporate a new product or health and beauty routine.
  • Shoppable Shorts are proving to be a growing business opportunity for influencers and brands, especially with the recent introduction of competitor TikTok Shop, which similarly offers the ability to directly shop for products shown in videos.

Read more on brands’ and influencers’ use of YouTube Shorts

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