How we read the internet is changing again and here’s what publishers can do to adapt

Publishers take note: how are you reading this article right now? Are you on your mobile phone waiting for a bus? Perusing your tablet at a cafe? At your computer at work or home? Maybe you’re actually on all three, moving between one another with great ease? You’re not alone.

Welcome to the changing consumption habits of the internet (again). But luckily, we’re here to help this time.

A recent study from the Pew Research Center finds some surprising and positive insights into readership and consumption habits. A majority of Americans get the news through at least one digital, web-based device and 23 percent now get the news on more than one (and sometimes three) devices.

Of these Americans, 58 percent of adults have a smartphone (as of January 2014) and they use it to go on the internet. In fact, for the first time ever, mobile internet usage overtook PC computer internet usage, meaning more people used their phone and tablet to browse the web than their personal computer. As much as 50 percent of traffic can be from mobile these days.

Times are changing (again). So how can publishers get ahead of the game this time?

The first step is to understand how content is being read and the future of the platforms it’s being consumed on. What’s most important to grasp about this is that people aren’t necessarily gravitating towards one device—most favor using multiple devices at once. It’s called screen stacking, and it already distracts us from longer content.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: it’s all about the micro content. Micro content is the only real contender for the screen-stacking brain. Publishers will want to create light content that can be consumed quickly. This is because a consumer might switch between devices, ignoring the content that is literally sitting in front of them.

Or maybe, a consumer switches devices to look at articles for later. Picture this: a person is on their phone and they come across my article “10 ways to help your content succeed,” but only have time to really just glance at it on their phone. The list at the top of the article is what they choose to read and after reading it for a few minutes, they save the list or article to read the full story later when they have more time or more interest. This scenario works well with worrying more about time spent on the site than page clicks, too.

Look at the screen-stacking phenomenon as having the glass half full. The internet is changing the way we do everything (again), but this time publishers can be ahead of the curve. You understand that the internet is important and now you know that the rise of mobile and tablets are even more important than ever.

Image credit: tribehut via Flickr

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