Pandora is getting an upgrade. Aside from giving its free tier more song skips and the ability to (finally!) replay tracks, it’s also rolling out a brand new “Pandora Plus” service. That costs $5 a month, gives you unlimited skips and replays, and lets you play (select) songs offline.
This chart from Statista should help explain why the company is making this move. As of this past June, Pandora had about 3.9 million paid subscribers. That’s better than the likes of Tidal and Deezer, but it’s still a ways behind Apple Music’s 17 million, and light years away from Spotify’s 40 million.
Considering how more and more music streaming revenue is coming from the subscription-based model, that’s a big gap. Pandora Plus isn’t quite a full-on Spotify competitor (a $10 a month on-demand Pandora service is reportedly coming in the future) but Pandora has to be hoping it can convert at least some of its roughly 80 million freebie users into regularly paying customers.
Facebook announced that bots built atop Facebook Messenger can now support native in-app payments. The company also said 300 million people use audio and video calling features on Messenger every month.
Facebook’s VP of messaging, David Marcus, spoke about Messenger at TechCrunch Disrupt. (Associated Press)
FacebookFB +0.44% Messenger has evolved rapidly since the social media giant’s vice president of messaging David Marcus started running the service about two years ago, reaching 1 billion users in July, up from 700 million users a year earlier.
On Monday, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company unveiled several Messenger updates that show the social network is serious about the future of chat bots and voice interfaces. On the stage of TechCrunch’s annual Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Marcus announced that chat bots built atop Facebook Messenger can now support native in-app payments. Marcus also said that 300 million people [≈ population of United States, nation] use audio and video calling features on Messenger every month. While Messenger is not actively working on adding voice interfaces to replace actions like typing and selecting buttons, Marcus said Messenger plans to add voice capabilities down the line.
For its new bot payments feature, FacebookFB +0.44% is working with a number of partners, such as PayPal, Stripe, VisaV +0.69%, MasterCard, American ExpressAXP +0.74% and Braintree, and the tool allows users to complete payments in-app without going to an external site. Messenger users can now use credit card information they’ve stored in Messenger to make payments via bots. About 34,000 developers have made 30,000 bots on Messenger, up from 10,000 developers in May and 11,000 bots in July, the company said.
“Now Messenger bots will allow native payments,” Marcus said on Monday, offering the example of using a single Messenger thread to complete all of the steps of booking an airline flight, from browsing flights, accessing customer support, buying the ticket and getting an itinerary.
“Bringing all of these types of mobile experiencs together is what will ultimately make platform successful over time,” Marcus added.
Since Messenger bots first debuted at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference inApril, users’ reception to the bots generally has been tepid. Marcus acknowledged that Facebook has more to do to help developers build successful bots and improve the underlying functionality. Marcus said the initial launch of bots on Messenger was a move to ”put a stake in the ground,” not to roll out a fully-baked feature. So far, news bots have generally been the best-performing apps by engagement and retention, the company said.
“What we want to do here is build an ecosystem and bring a lot of developers to the platform,” Marcus said, noting that Facebook has been investing in new tools and guidance for bot developers over the past several months. “It’s not easy and it takes time. It got overhyped very quickly.”
Messenger isn’t currently focused on monetization and doesn’t generate meaningful revenue for Facebook. However, Marcus noted that businesses are using advertisements on Facebook news feed to take users to their Messenger bots and drive better returns on their ad spend, in some cases, than they can through their own mobile apps and sites. Developers can now incorporate interfactes from their sites into bots, which can make it easier for users, for example, to scroll through products or flights without leaving their Messenger thread.
Marcus said the future of Messenger looks sunny. Engagement by daily sends has ”grown tremendously” on the service over the last several years.
“Messaging is all about the ability to reach the people you want to reach,” Marcus said. “It’s a no-brainer to use Messenger because the experience is so much better than traditional SMS clients.”
With all the content that out there on the Internet, how does a brand break through and get their content at the top of the pile? Many are saying it’s interactive content.
Interactive content is not exactly new. Financial services have used calculators on their websites for what seems like forever. And quizzes, contests, and sweepstakes are the norms in B2C marketing. B2B marketers have been getting on board too, the last couple of years. But it seems like now is the age of interactive content.
The right interactive content is important
There are plenty of different types of interactive content: quizzes, assessments, calculators, surveys, interactive whitepapers and ebooks, guided tours and wizards, and the list goes on.
Some of my favorites:
Interactive whitepaper or ebook: These are pretty cool and ease the reading and skimming process if you like doing your research online. There are links embedded that shortcut you to the sections you want. There might be a quiz that if you answer right will move you forward, and if you answer wrong might take you somewhere else where more information is provided.
Self-assessments or knowledge tests: Typically 6-10 questions, these types of “quizzes” tell you how much you really know about a topic, or where your company is on the expertise scale (from ‘are you a newbie’, or ‘you rock the topic like Mick Jagger!’). With these assessments, additional information is usually provided to give more information or tips and best practices. Sometimes, to get your answers, you have to provide an email address (not a big fan of that).
Galleries: Galleries and interactive microsites are a great idea for B2B and B2C marketing. There are collections of images, videos and other content that provide a unique content experience on a particular subject. It’s a place people can dive in and learn, whether that’s brand and product focused, or subject matter only.
Interactive content is very much about getting customers and prospects engaged. Most of us are not engaged when we read blog posts or whitepapers, what is referred to as passive content. Most people don’t comment on blogs, and when they share content on social, it’s typically a direct link to the content with little to no additional thoughts or ideas.
But brands desire engagement because engagement means visitors have the potential to become prospects and then customers. Engagement means they are interested and invested in going further.
Scott Brinker presented this view of the different types of interactive content and where they fit on the engagement scale:
Not every brand should use all these different types of interactive content. Knowing your audience and the types of content they consume is very important to figuring out the type of interactive content you want to create.
The other part of interactive content focuses on entertainment. There’s a bridge you need to create between informative and entertaining that some can’t figure out. Too much fun and you may not get the results you expect. Not enough fun and visitors may lose interest and not complete the engagement.
The right strategy is even more important
Different interactive content works better at different stages of the buyer’s journey. Recent research from the Content Marketing Institute (commissioned by ion interactive, Scott Brinker’s company) looked at which content types worked best at which stage:
In the CMI research, 53% of companies create interactive content 2015, but that number was expected to increase to 75% this year. There has been a lot more conversation around using it and a number of vendors coming to the forefront who enable its creation.
But interactive content is more expensive to create than passive content, especially if you don’t have technology. Digital marketing agencies are likely see a boon from companies to create this content manually. Even if you do use a technology like ion interactive, SnapApp, Ceros, Uberflip or another, there are associated costs, so it’s very important to have a well-defined strategy for using it and measuring its success.
Jason Brewer, in a blog post on Convince and Convert, pointed out that interactive content needs to solve problems first and used as a content marketing campaign second. It’s a great point to make, take the time to think about why you want to create interactive content.
Who is the audience I want to reach?
What information am I trying to share with my audience?
What information am I trying to find out to improve my marketing, products or services? Can I get information that improves lead scoring?
What type of interactive content does this audience like and does it fit the information I want to share/obtain?
Where do I want to publish this content? What is my distribution and promotion strategy?
How will I measure success?
All content marketing should educate your customers; that’s the core focus of content marketing. It’s used for lead generation, but it’s not about your products or services (unless it is about your products and services – which means it’s actually product marketing content).
But unlike passive content, interactive content lets you learn a lot more about your visitors (or prospects or customers) and not through a lead gen form. Done well, it can help you better understand pain points and challenges they face, problems they want to solve. It can help you create deeper profiles that improve the relevancy of the content you show then and at later times or stages. It can certainly help improve lead scoring.
It can also help you improve your products and services. Interactive content can help you map out a customer support portal, improve a product development roadmap, create a new product or service.
Interactive content provides great opportunities if used in the right situations and used first to educate. But there are numerous ways you can use this type of content to improve how you market and what you market.
Technology plays a key role in how quickly you can get interactive content out, and improve it (instead of a build once and learn for the next time). Next week I’ll be looking at some of these vendor tools.
Parked outside a warehouse by the Allegheny River was Uber’s vision of the future: 14 Ford Fusions, each mounted with conspicuous cameras, antennae and sensors. A lumpy lidar unit, which uses light to map its surroundings, spun atop each car’s roof like a high-tech propeller hat.
Stylish? Not quite. But I was about to get into a car that drives itself. Style was the least of my worries.
This fleet of geekmobiles, clearly marked with Uber’s logo, will be deployed Wednesday as part of a test that will let Pittsburgh customers hail a self-driving car. They will roll out of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, less than three miles from Carnegie Mellon University, from which Uber poached some of the school’s top robotics experts.
When it opened the facility 18 months ago, the San Francisco ride-hailing start-up, which has a valuation of $62.5 billion ≈ all real estate in Bronx, NYC, 2010
≈ net worth of Bill Gates, 2011
≈ cost of 1980 US drought
“>[≈ all real estate in Staten Island, NYC, 2010], threw its hat into an increasingly crowded ring of automakers and tech firms racing to be first to market with a self-driving car.
Most firms have already logged autonomous miles on public roads, usually with their own engineers behind the wheel. In Singapore earlier this year, an American start-up called nuTonomy started offering rides to passengers in which an engineer sat in the driver’s seat while the car drove on its own.
Uber Technologies Inc. will be the first company in the U.S. to offer commercial self-driving rides to passengers.
“Self-driving is core to Uber’s mission of providing reliable transportation everywhere to everyone,” Anthony Levandowski, vice president of engineering at Uber, told the media at the company’s robotics center Tuesday.
While Uber gave the impression last month that it was ahead of the game, boldly announcing that it would soon offer self-driving car rides to its customers, this week it outlined a more conservative plan.
The company will invite loyal Pittsburgh customers to opt into the program. Only some will get one of Uber’s self-driving Ford Fusion vehicles when they hail a ride.
The company didn’t detail what kind of rides it will offer but said it chose Pittsburgh because it’s an “ideal environment” with winding roads, traffic congestion and weather extremes. Much of the testing has so far been done on highways and during rush hour.
Each ride is conducted by two Uber engineers. The engineer in the driver’s seat is ready to take over the car at a moment’s notice. If the car ventures into areas Uber has yet to map (less than half of Pittsburgh neighborhoods have been mapped so far), the driver will assume control.
In the passenger’s seat, another engineer with a laptop takes notes, logging unusual events and incidents for further analysis.
In the back seat, the passenger can see on an iPad what the car sees. There’s the option of seeing the route. Another view shows the speed, whether the car is in autonomous mode and the turns of the steering wheel. There’s a camera button too. Touch that, and it’ll snap a selfie.
Despite the tablet display, sitting in the back seat of one of Uber’s autonomous Ford Fusions feels a lot like sitting in the back seat for an ordinary Uber ride.
While the whirring of the lidar sensor was audible from the outside, on the inside it was easy to forget that the car was driving itself.
This was my second time in a self-driving car. The first time, I rode in Google’s autonomous vehicle. On both occasions, I went in thinking I’d be able to detect every fault. I was ready for the algorithm to screw up – to brake too forcefully, to accelerate too quickly, to drive too slowly.
None of those things happened. On both occasions, I got bored and started admiring the view out the window instead.
We drove through the city’s industrial Strip District. The engineers pointed out what the sensors were detecting and how the car was responding to its environment. We followed the river to the edge of Downtown. We sat at a traffic light. We navigated through busy intersections. We swerved to avoid a truck that had ventured into our lane.
The driver took over only on one occasion — when another vehicle ran a stop sign. And it was only obvious that he’d taken over because I could see his arms move. The rest of the time, they remained still, his hands barely touching the steering wheel as it turned back and forth on its own.
The engineer in the passenger’s seat said the vehicle’s sensors detected that the other car was running the stop sign. Our car would have stopped, he said, but the driver intervened anyway, just to be safe. He noted this on his laptop.
Automakers such as Ford, which are also developing their own self-driving cars, don’t expect to deploy this kind of technology without drivers behind the wheel until 2021 at the earliest. Lyft, which is also in the game with GM, says it’s probably 10 years away. Volvo is working with Uber, but it’s also developing its own self-driving technology that it expects to be ready in 2020.
Even Uber doesn’t know when its technology will be ready to hit the road without an engineer behind the wheel. There’s also the matter of autonomous vehicle regulation in the U.S., which remains up in the air as it awaits regulatory guidelines from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. So why is Uber doing a pilot now?
“It’s an opportunity for real-world testing,” said Emily Bartel, a product manager at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center.
The company isn’t just testing the technology’s efficacy — it’s trying to gauge how customers will react once they’re in the cars. Maybe they’ll freak out. Maybe they’ll have valuable feedback.
Or maybe, like me, they’ll quickly forget that they’re putting their lives in the hands of a computer.
Columbus, Ohio, is a mid-size city known primarily as the home of Ohio State University, not as a hub of cutting edge technology for public transportation. But that is exactly what this city of 790,000 people ≈ population of Riga, capital city of Latvia
≈ population of Bhutan, nation
≈ population of Comoros, nation
≈ population of Guyana, nation
≈ population of Charlotte, North Carolina, US
≈ population of Krakow, Poland
≈ population of Fort Worth, Texas, US
≈ population of Tunis, capital city of Tunisia
≈ population of Matola, Mozambique
≈ population of Tangier, Morocco
≈ population of Jerusalem, capital city of Israel
≈ population of Oran, Algeria
≈ population of Arequipa, Peru
≈ population of Columbus, Ohio, US
≈ population of Vientiane, capital city of Laos
≈ population of Da Nang, Vietnam
≈ population of N’Djamena, capital city of Chad
≈ population of Yamoussoukro, capital city of Cote d’Ivoire
≈ population of Valencia, Spain
≈ population of Kisangani, Democratic Republic of the Congo
≈ population of San Francisco, California, US
≈ population of Cotonou, Benin
≈ population of Austin, Texas, US
≈ population of Lilongwe, capital city of Malawi
≈ population of Zamboanga, Philippines
≈ population of Indianapolis, Indiana, US
≈ population of Jacksonville, Florida, US
≈ population of San Miguel De Tucuman, Argentina
≈ population of Islamabad, capital city of Pakistan
≈ population of Thessaloniki, Greece
≈ population of As Sulaymaniyah, Iraq
≈ population of Cebu City, Philippines
≈ population of Rajshahi, Bangladesh
≈ population of Bishkek, capital city of Kyrgyzstan
≈ population of Hamah, Syria
≈ population of Blantyre, Malawi
≈ population of Valparaiso, Chile
≈ population of Palermo, Italy
≈ population of Oslo, capital city of Norway
≈ population of Freetown, capital city of Sierra Leone
“>[≈ population of Djibouti, nation] plans to be.
By 2019, residents of Columbus could see autonomous shuttles cruising the Easton commercial district, motion-sensitive LED streetlights that also provide free Wi-Fi internet to the residential neighborhood of Linden, and 175 smart traffic signals that aim to ease traffic jams and speed first-responders’ paths through the city. Residents will also be able to use one app to plan and pay for trips that require multiple types of public transportation.
Columbus’s smart city evolution is taking shape thanks to $40m ≈ Health industry 2011 political donations”>[≈ Electronics/communication industry 2011 political donations] in federal funds the city recently won as part of the US Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. The challenge drew applications from 78 cities.
The competition pushed cities to consider transforming their entire transit system, instead of doing so in the piecemeal fashion that typically characterizes city planning. It also provided an opportunity for city officials to see the technology that is available or under development, and share obstacles they face with their fellow urban planners.
Mark Dowd, a deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of Transportation, said that the competition gave city planners an opportunity to work with technology developers and figure out a blend of technologies that suit their specific needs.
“Automated vehicles are often described as linear projects,” Dowd said. “[But] how does automation work with the sharing economy, [or] with low carbon alternatives?”
The applications say a lot about the key trends and challenges for smart transportation. Here, we explore four leading technologies that could radically change our daily commute.
Robots on wheels
The world is waiting eagerly for the arrival of autonomous cars – and with good reason. Self-driving vehicles, from standard four-passenger cars to shuttles to jitneys, could reinvent how people live and travel around cities. They could also prompt cities to reconsider whether they even need parking spots.
San Francisco, one of the seven Smart City Challenge finalists, proposes running a fleet of autonomous vehicles to carry people between their homes and transit hubs. Across the bay, the Contra Costa Transit Authority in Contra Costa County, California, has begun testing what it calls Shared Driverless Vehicles, which are six-seat autonomous buses that chart their routes with GPS and mapping software and avoid collisions by using data from sensors embedded in the buses.
But, while autonomous vehicles offer great public benefits, they could also create unintended consequences, warned Amanda Eaken, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s transportation and climate program. People could end up preferring self-driving cars over buses and trains, leading to more cars clogging the city streets, she said.
Research suggests autonomous vehicles – if city transit agencies implement them thoughtfully – could reduce the number of miles vehicles travel by as much as 90%, Eaken said. But the US Department of Energy warns it could also lead to a 200% increase in miles traveled as people take advantage of the convenience by traveling farther and more frequently. And those vehicles would need to travel somewhere to park after depositing their passengers.
“You thought it couldn’t get worse than single-occupancy vehicles,” Eaken said. “But imagine zero-occupancy vehicles circling the streets.”
Autonomous technology isn’t the only good option for improving public transportation. Smart can also be simple: cities can do significantly more to encourage non-car transportation, particularly through easy bike sharing, more connected transit hubs and even working with existing ride-hailing services such as Uber or Lyft.
Electronic eyes: a network of sensors
There is no technology more critical to smart cities than sensors. Autonomous vehicles won’t work without sensors, particularly ones that monitor and track a vehicle’s position relative to other vehicles on the road. Sensors also allow autonomous cars to spot humans and other hazards.
Sensors embedded into roads, traffic signs and other places throughout a city can collect massive amounts of data and provide information that can be used to allow people to plan their trips. For example, a network of sensors can tell riders when their next bus is coming, or keep track of the number of shared bikes at any docking station. Sensors can also help manage traffic flow by adjusting the length and frequency of traffic signals, or dim streetlights when no one is around. Sensors can even pick up acoustic signals and triangulate the location of gunfire.
Some cities already put sensors to good use, tracking public buses as they move between stops. In cities such as Las Vegas and Farmington Hills, Michigan, sensors built into streetlights allow them to brighten or dim and monitor air quality.
Sensors are expensive, but their prices will fall when demand for them increases. Traffic signals with built-in sensors can reduce congestion by as much as 20%, according to McKinsey, but they also can cost as much as $100,000 ≈ cost of Porsche 911″>[≈ Small rural house, 2011] per signal to implement. It cost Los Angeles more than $400m [≈ 2008 presidential election contributions to John McCain] to install smart signals that synchronize its 4,500 traffic lights in 2013, a time and money intensive project to tackle gridlock.
As with location services on smartphones, sensors come with privacy concerns. When Las Vegas planned to install smart LED lights downtown, privacy advocatesvoiced alarm over the lights’ potential to record audio and video despite assurances from city officials that those features weren’t included.
Making data more accessible
Analyzing and storing the enormous amount of data – and making it accessible to the public – poses a significant challenge for transportation planners, said Bettina Tratz-Ryan, a research vice president at market research firm, Gartner.
As the winner of the Smart City Challenge, Columbus will get to use 100 kiosks created by Sidewalk Labs, owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, to manage and supply data.
The kiosks offer information about traffic and public transit services via free internet access, and they come with charging ports for USB devices. Their presence makes data accessible to those without access to mobile phones or internet at home.
New York City has already rolled out a number of similar interactive kiosks in the city as part of its LinkNYC program, which replaces phone booths. However, the program has drawn criticism over the kind of data it collects from users. (The kiosks ask users to submit their email address before connecting them to the free WiFi.)
Making payment painless
Perhaps the most mundane but critically important aspect of smart transportation technologies has to do with trip payments. Convenient payment systems help people travel without delays, especially when they embark on multi-leg trips that require different payment methods. For example, you use your phone to hail a taxi or rent a car by the hour to get to a subway station, where you will have to dig out cash or credit card to pay for the train.
San Francisco and Portland both plan to roll out transportation apps. Portland’s UBMobilePDX, for example, gives commuters a range of options, including public transit, parking lots, biking and walking routes, and services for sharing rides, cars and bikes. The app also shows the cost, speed, safety and environmental impact of each option.
Some cities like Los Angeles and London already make use of mobile apps to make trip payments easy – at least for those with smartphones. Last year, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency created an app that allows riders to pay for bus fares using their mobile devices. The city wants to expand the app to include the ability to pay for trips on other regional public transit systems.
The new milestone was achieved this July, the report says, and is a testament to our increasing reliance on native mobile applications to deliver us the information we need, as well as the entertainment and distractions we crave – things we used to turn to the web for, in previous years.
Our app usage has grown not only because of the ubiquity of smartphones, but also other factors – like faster speeds provided by 4G LTE networks, and smartphones with larger screens that make sitting at a desktop less of a necessity. In addition, the app stores have grown to house millions of downloads – so there really is an app for just about anything you need.
The list of top apps by unique visitors is dominated today by the big players, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Pandora, Snapchat and newcomer Pokémon Go.
The apps with the most usage, in order, are: Facebook, Messenger, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Play, Gmail, Pandora, Instagram, Amazon mobile, Apple Music, Apple Maps, Pokémon Go, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
What’s surprising about this list is Pokémon’s ranking – something that proves there’s still room for new apps to become giants in what’s now a saturated market. ComScore says that, for as long as it has been measuring digital audiences, there isn’t even a remotely comparable instance of a website or app capturing as large an audience as Pokémon Go did in such a short time.
The closest example was Walmart’s app when it debuted its Savings Catcher, which grew by 4 million users to 24 million over the course of 4 months.
Pokémon Go, however, became the 13th largest mobile app with 55 million unique users (U.S.) across smartphones and tablets in its first month – or more than 30 percent of the total mobile population. It also ranked 4th in total time spent in app, behind Facebook, Pandora and YouTube. Over a third of its users visited the app daily, too.
The latest report from Sensor Tower indicates that Pokémon Go has now surpassed 180 million downloads worldwide, and the average U.S. iOS user is playing the game for 32 minutes per day. It’s also raking in over $4 million in net revenue daily.
While Pokémon may be more the exception than the rule, consumers’ app usage has been steadily climbing over the years.
This figure grew from 34 percent in 2013, to 41 percent the following year and has now reached 50 percent. In the near-term, comScore expects apps to grow beyond the 50 percent mark as well, but says that both desktops and tablets will continue to maintain critical roles in consumers’ lives for the foreseeable future.
Americans today have an enormous variety of content available to them at any time of day, and this material is available in a number of formats and through a range of digitally connected devices. Yet even as the number of ways people spend their time has expanded, a Pew Research Center survey finds that the share of Americans who have read a book in the last12 months (73%) has remained largely unchanged since 2012. And when people reach for a book, it is much more likely to be a traditional print book than a digital product. Fully 65% of Americans have read a print book in the last year, more than double the share that has read an e-book (28%) and more than four times the share that has consumed book content via audio book (14%).
But while print remains at the center of the book-reading landscape as a whole, there has been a distinct shift in the e-book landscape over the last five years. Americans increasingly turn to multipurpose devices such as smartphones and tablet computers – rather than dedicated e-readers – when they engage with e-book content. The share of e-book readers on tablets has more than tripled since 2011 and the number of readers on phones has more than doubled over that time, while the share reading on e-book reading devices has not changed. And smartphones are playing an especially prominent role in the e-reading habits of certain demographic groups, such as non-whites and those who have not attended college.
These are among the main findings of a nationally representative telephone survey of1,520 American adults conducted March 7-April 4, 2016.
The share of Americans who have read a book in the last year is largely unchanged since 2012; more Americans read print books than either read e-books or listen to audio books
Following a slight overall decline in book readership between 2011 and 2012, the share of American adults who read books in any format has remained largely unchanged over the last four years. Some 73% of Americans report that they have read at least one book in thelast year. That is nearly identical to the 74% who reported doing so in a survey conducted in 2012, although lower than the 79% who reported doing so in 2011.
Americans read an average (mean) of 12 books per year, while the typical (median) American has read 4 books in the last 12 months. Each of these figures is largely unchanged since 2011, when Pew Research Center first began conducting surveys of Americans’ book reading habits (for additional details on the number of books read per year by different demographic groups, see Appendix A).
Readers today can access books in several common digital formats, but print books remain substantially more popular than either e-books or audio books. Roughly two-thirds of Americans (65%) have read a print book in the last year, which is identical to the share of Americans who reported doing so in 2012 (although down slightly from the 71% who reported reading a print book in 2011).
By contrast, 28% of Americans have read an e-book – and 14% have listened to an audio book – in the last year. In addition to being less popular than print books overall, the share of Americans who read e-books or listen to audio books has remained fairly stable in recent years.
E-book readership increased by 11-percentage points between 2011 and 2014 (from 17% to 28%) but has seen no change in the last two years. Similarly, the share of American adults who listen to audio books has changed only marginally since Pew Research Center first asked about this topic in 2011 – at that point, 11% of Americans had listened to an audio book in the last year, compared with 14% now.
Nearly four-in-ten Americans read print books exclusively; just 6% are digital-only book readers
In total, 34% of Americans have either read an e-book or listened to an audio book in the last year, but relatively few Americans read books in these digital formats to the exclusion of print books.
More than one-quarter (28%) of Americans read books in both print and digital formats (which includes e-books and audio books). Some 38% read print books but did not read books in any digital formats, while just 6% read digital books but not print books.
Relatively few Americans are “digital-only” book readers regardless of their demographic characteristics. However, some demographic groups are slightly more likely than others to do all of their reading in digital format. For instance, 7% of college graduates are digital-only book readers (compared with just 3% of those who have not graduated from high school), as are 8% of those with annual household incomes of$75,000 or more (compared with 3% of Americans with incomes of $30,000 or less). Interestingly, young adults are no more likely than older adults to be “digital-only” book readers: 6% of 18- to 29-year-olds read books in digital formats only, compared with 7% of 30- to 49-year-olds and 5% of those 50 and older.
College graduates are roughly four times as likely to read e-books and about twice as likely to read print books and audio books – compared with those who have not graduated high school
College graduates – Compared with those who have not attended college, college graduates are more likely to read books in general, more likely to read print books, and more likely to consume digital-book content. The typical (median) college graduate has read seven books in thelast year.
Young adults – 80% of 18- to 29-year-olds have read a book in the last year, compared with 67% of those65 and older. These young adults are more likely than their elders to read books in various digital formats, but are also more likely to read print books as well: 72% have read a print book in the last year, compared with 61% of seniors.1
Women – Women are more likely than men to read books in general and also more likely to read print books. However, men and women are equally likely to read digital-format books such as e-books and audio books.
The share of Americans who read books on tablets or cellphones has increased substantially since 2011, while the share using dedicated e-readers has remained stable
Tablet computer and smartphone ownership haveeach increased dramatically in recent years, and a growing share of Americans are using these multipurpose mobile devices – rather than dedicated e-readers – to read books. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of Americans who read books on tablet computers has increased nearly fourfold (from 4% to 15%), while the share who read books on smartphones has more than doubled (from 5% to 13%). The share of Americans who read books on desktop or laptop computers has also increased, although by a more modest amount: 11% of Americans now do this, up from 7% in 2011.
By contrast, 8% of Americans now report that they read books using dedicated e-reader devices – nearly identical to the 7% who reported doing so in 2011.
About one-in-five Americans under the age of 50 have used a cellphone to read e-books; blacks and Americans who have not attended college are especially likely to turn to cellphone – rather than other digital devices – when reading e-books
Previous Pew Research Center studies have documented how several groups – such as blacks and Latinos, and those who have not attended college – tend torely heavily on smartphonesfor online access. And in the context of book reading, members of these groups are especially likely to turn to smartphones – rather than tablets or other types of digital devices – when they engage with e-book content.
For instance, 16% of blacks report that they use their cellphones to read books. That is nearly double the share of blacks who read books on traditional computers (9%) and four times the share who read books using dedicated e-readers (4%). Hispanics are less likely than blacks as a whole to read books on cellphones (11% do so), but Hispanics are also substantially more likely to read books on cellphones than on e-readers or traditional computers. By contrast, whites tend to turn to a range of digital devices when reading e-books: 13% read e-books on cellphones, but 18% read e-books on tablet computers, 10% use e-book readers and 11% engage with e-book content on desktop or laptop computers.
Cellphones also play a relatively prominent role in the reading habits of Americans who have not attended college. College graduates are far more likely than those with high school diplomas or less to read books on tablets (25% vs. 7%), e-book readers (15% vs. 3%) or traditional computers (15% vs. 6%). But these differences are much less pronounced when it comes to reading books on cellphones. Some 17% of college graduates read books this way, compared with 11% of those with high school diplomas or less – just a 6-percentage point difference.
Along with these groups, Americans under the age of 50 are especially likely to consume e-book content on cell phones: one-in-five (19%) do so, compared with 9% of 50- to 64-year-olds and just 4% of those 65 and older.
The share of Americans who read in order to research a specific topic of interest has increased in recent years
In addition to asking whether – and on what devices – Americans read books specifically, the survey also included a broader set of questions asking about reasons that people might read written content of anykind (including books, but also magazines, newspapers or online content).
Among all American adults:
84% ever read to research specific topics of interest (29% do so nearly every day).
82% read to keep up with current events (47% nearly every day).
80% read for pleasure (35% nearly every day).
57% read for work or school (31% do so nearly every day).
A similar share of Americans report that they read for pleasure, for work or school, or to keep up with current events compared to the most recent time these questions were asked in 2011. However, the share of Americans who read in order to research specific topics of interest has increased by 10-percentage points over that time frame, from 74% to 84%.
Older and younger adults are equally likely to read for pleasure or to keep up with current events; younger adults are more likely to read for work or school, or to research a topic of interest
In some cases, the factors associated with high rates of book readership are the same ones associated with reading for specific purposes. For instance, college graduates are more likely than those who have only attended high school to read books in general – and they are also more likely to read for all four of the specific motivations examined in this survey.
At the same time, there is not always such a direct relationship between book reading and overall reading for specific purposes. As noted earlier in this report, young adults are more likely to read books than older adults. And when asked about specific reasons why they might read a range of content, these young adults are much more likely than older adults to say that they read for work or school, or to research a specific topic of interest. However, Americans of all ages are equally likely to indicate that they read (whether in book form or otherwise) for pleasure or to keep up with current events.
Over the course of the morning of July 8, a New York Times storyabout the shooting of police officers in Dallas changed headlines more than a dozen times — introducing the name of the suspected shooter, then changing to include possible motive, then changing to reflect that the suspect had been killed, then changing to the motive provided by the police chief. With each corresponding headline change, Times reporters and editors could monitor traffic shifts and reader response across social channels and comments on the Times page, through its new custom-built internal dashboard.
Stela — no, not “Stella!”; “story and events analytics” — is a Times analytics tool that pulls in data from multiple sources and presents it in one place, with simplified visuals and non-jargony categories catered towards journalists.
“We were looking for ways to help reporters and editors get feedback on the things they were being asked to do online, such as tweaking headlines, promoting to social,” Steve Mayne, lead growth editor at the Times, said. “And we believed it would be much more effective for us to actually have a tool to show reporters how, for instance, certain actions directly resulted in more people reading their stories.”
Stela opened to the entire newsroom in September 2015, focused on analytics around individual article pages. (A rough prototype, built during a hack week and incorporating only barebones metrics, had been first rolled out to the audience development team and a few interested editors.) It’s currently expanding to include better video analytics; the team is also playing around ways to deliver useful data points to reporters that they’ll actually bother to look at. Think a daily, desk-specific email, reporting analytics information in the body of the email, distributed in the newsroom.
Stela pulls in data from the Times’ desktop and mobile websites, as well as all of the Times’ mobile apps (though not articles hosted off-platform, such as on Facebook’s Instant Articles). In addition to elementary metrics like pageviews and referrals (a section of the dashboard helpfully titled “How did readers find this story?”), Stela breaks down other data points such as the percentage of readers coming to each story from different countries (Nick Kristof uses it to see where readers of his international columns are coming from) and how many readers are subscribers, registered users, or anonymous traffic. It also pulls top comments and shows the social posts that are doing best, so that editors can see which Facebook or Twitter posts have been shared or retweeted most widely. Social media editors monitor Stela and can reuse language from the posts that have performed best, rather than trying to eyeball various Twitter or Facebook accounts for what appear to be popular posts.
The dashboard pulls in data in 10-minute increments and right now only covers up to two weeks of data — but most stories only have a one- or two-day window of significant traffic before they’re buried by the following news cycle, anyway.
“We’re excited to be hearing that this tool can be used to help develop story ideas,” Mayne said. “Often times, we’ll do a story and there will be a lot of comments, a lot of interest, and before you might have to pay attention to separate Twitter feeds or to the article comments. Stela highlights them for you, and editors can use that to think about whether they want to do a sidebar or a followup story.”
Many other newsrooms haveinvested in building out in-house analytics tools to encourage digital (and particularly, mobile) thinking; in a way, the Times had something of a last-mover advantage. “It convinced our masthead this was not a flavor of the month, that this had really become part and parcel of what journalism should be: understanding your audience how to reach them,” Mayne said.
Like The Guardian and its much-beloved analytics engine Ophan, which Mayne credits as an inspiration for Stela, the Times focused on usability, conducting user testing and working with a designer. The dashboard uses Times typefaces and is structured to match the look and feel of the Times brand.
“Obviously, we had analytics systems internally before, but the problem was no one was really using them in the newsroom,” Mayne said. “We had our Event Tracker system, which had a lot of the data, but in order to get the data out of it you had to use SQL, and the notion that a reporter or editor would then have time to write SQL to look at analytics…it was something reporters had to ask an analyst to pull numbers from for them.”
“As to why we wanted to build this all in-house: We were able to join together a bunch of data from disparate data sources. You can always log into Facebook, then log into Chartbeat, then log into Google Analytics, to find the data, but that just isn’t very reasonable,” Erica Greene, a developer at The Times, said. “It’s very valuable to display all the data in one place. We can overlay a Facebook post on top of traffic data so you can see the impact that Facebook had. We can track data when articles are put on the homepage. Reporters can see how different actions change performance.”
It’s also helped make tangible the importance of mobile-friendly writing and design.
“On so many stories, you’ll see 60, 70, 80 percent of readers coming from mobile, particularly for some of the breaking news stuff,” Mayne said. “We’ve been telling people that for a long time, but there’s a difference between that and actually seeing how much mobile traffic a story is getting. It’s getting our journalists to look at their stories on the phone, to ask: Is this too long? Did I have to scroll too many times?”
Next for the Stela team to tackle are questions around context. Did a story do well relative to similar stories? Did it reach the audience in, say, Latin America, that might’ve benefited from the reporting? There are no simple comparisons, Greene said. For instance, a high time-spent number might be good, but readers spend more time reading longer articles. Or what if there’s video, a different kind of media entirely? The team cautions that many of the basic metrics are imperfect indicators of success: Breaking news stories or big enterprise pieces will be promoted on the homepage and broadly across social accounts, but there’s a long tail of other stories that won’t ever hit the same scale of traffic.
“It’s one of the questions we get most often when we train people on the tool for the first time: Is this number good?” Greene said. “We want to get better at answering people’s questions, without giving a single score. People have hypotheses going in about how their stories will do and where it should’ve resonated, and want to be able to evaluate them.”
“The problem with a lot of third-party analytics is that you don’t know what the data is actually trying to answer. We don’t want to obfuscate at all. We want to answer questions like how do readers find the story, how do readers promote a story, so there’s no confusion whatsoever,” Mayne said. “That was a really big goal of this as well: not only helping build an understanding of our audience, but also making that data approachable, and making it simple and fun to use.”
Digital paywalls have helped news publishers like The New York Times and Financial Times stabilize their businesses and mitigate revenue losses in the wake of print’s collapse.
Now a new breed of digital-native publishers — like BuzzFeed, Vox, and Huffington Post — is considering whether to follow suit in a bid to decrease their reliance on the volatile ad market.
Both the incumbents and the disruptors in the online news business must face the same challenge: Millennials are hesitant to pay for their content. Only 25% of US millennials pay for some sort of digital news service (newspapers, magazines, or news apps), according to a 2015 survey from the American Press Institute. Meanwhile, 55% of them pay for entertainment content.
This aversion is encouraging change in the pay-for-content model. Legacy publishers are being forced to reevaluate their existing paywalls and subscription offerings in an effort to drive up new subscribers. Likewise, digital-native publishers that have historically shied away from paywalls are now considering alternative pay-for-content models like micro payments, user-data exchanges, and membership programs that could attract millennials.
Most legacy publishers have already adopted digital paywalls, but few digital natives have them in place. In 2015, 77 out of 98 US newspapers tracked by the American Press Association have implemented digital paywalls. However, none of the top digital native publishers have yet to ask readers to pay for content.
There is no one-size-fits-all model for publishers looking to implement or succeed with paywalls. Publishers with highly specific and unique content tend to gravitate toward strict paywalls, while those with a more general interest focus often operate with meteredpaywalls.
The traditional paywall model, that asks users to pay for a subscription in order to access content, needs to evolve to be successful in the future. Millennials are more hesitant to pay for news subscriptions than their predecessors. Long term, publishers need to consider alternative models like micropayments, membership programs, and user data exchanges to monetize readers.