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Content consumption habits on apps are changing: how should Publishers react?

Team PaperLit


Just as publishers have adapted to now offer their magazines on a digital magazine app, so too should they adapt to the way people are consuming content on their apps to be able to provide the best tailored experience for their readers.

Today, more and more people are spending more time in apps than anywhere else on their phone. An eMarketer study in April 2017 reported that the share of average time spent per day on mobile internet among US smartphone users is at 89% in-app against only 11% on mobile web. Despite this, the abundant supply of other competing apps means they’re not staying with your app any longer than they have to.

One way to ensure that the digital magazine apps stay relevant is to look at content consumption habits. They may seem fixed or at least take a long time to change. However, we should consider that the increasing rate of technological change means the way people consume content also changes with it.

To stay current, let’s look at today’s content consumption habits.

Live content

Better internet access and more people preferring their phones and devices over radio and TV have brought more demand for live content. We’re in that exact spot in time just when internet speeds can accommodate live streaming videos and when more and more are turning away from mainstream channels.


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So how can publishers take advantage of this? One way is to include an RSS feed in your digital magazine apps that feed live articles to them. Combined with push notifications, you can encourage frequent use of your app and not just when the new issue is out. You can also air live streaming videos.

Demand for on-demand content

If there’s one thing that characterises the latest change in content consumption in recent years, it’s on-demand content. On-demand content is content that delivered to the consumers when they want it, instead of adhering to programming schedules or even being limited by what can fit in a CD.

Netflix and Spotify are the easiest examples of this. They’ve revolutionised their industries by providing on-demand content. Viewers and listeners no longer have to wait for the next episode to come out before being able to watch it; series are released by the season. Spotify has directly competed against radios by allowing listeners to choose the songs they want to hear instead of waiting for the DJ to air something they like.

Digital magazine apps can cash into this by providing live content, putting up previous issues for access and from a functionality standpoint, have the magazine available offline.


How many times have we read through an article online, and after the article was finished, we scroll down some more to see what the comments are?

Sometimes, the comments on articles themselves are actually informative and insightful that can complement the story written in the article. It is an added value to see varying points of view, particularly when the article is about hot and current topics. If not, at the very least they can be entertaining.

One way digital magazine apps can take advantage of this is to enable comments on articles and allow readers to interact with each other.


Ever come across a poll in social media? Or perhaps you’ve read an article where you were asked some information which they used to calculate your stats against the statistics they’re reporting in their article? If so, then you’ve experienced gamification.

Gamification is the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity to encourage engagement with a product or service.

Digital publication apps can take advantage of this by gamifying articles or the app themselves. You can include polls in your articles, and offer readers the chance to see themselves within the context of what you are writing about, or you can put reaction polls on whether the article made the reader feel happy, sad, angry, hopeful, etc and show them the live results. Or you can even give ranks or points to your readers based on the number of articles they’ve read, times they’ve commented, etc.

Improve your audience acquisition and retention

Looking at content consumption habits can give us clues on how to deliver digital magazines according to the habits of our readers. Keeping on top of these habits will certainly help you during audience retention.

However, attracting more downloads is also needed to be able to keep your digital magazine app profitable. To help you with app promotion, download our Starter’s Guide to App Promotion and User Acquisition for Magazine and Newspaper App Publishers!