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Consumers overwhelmingly prefer to get their news via text even as online video grows

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By Minda Smiley | Reporter

June 29, 2016 | 4 min read

Even as more and more news organizations invest in online video to try and attract eyeballs, a recent report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that the majority of consumers do not spend time watching videos while on news sites.

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According to the report, technology, publishers and platforms are the driving forces behind online video growth, not consumer demand. After interviewing around 30 news organizations, the authors of the study found that people spend an average of 2.5 percent of their time watching video while on news sites. Even news orgs with large video operations are having difficulties capturing viewer attention, with BBC News struggling to get more than one in ten of visitors to access video, according to the study.

However, the report did find that interest in an online video peaks whenever a large-scale news event occurs. For example, the percentage of users accessing BBC News video following the Paris attacks last November more than doubled, from 10 percent on an average day to 22 percent after the attacks.

It also found that off-site news video consumption on platforms like Facebook is growing quickly, with successful videos including attributes such as brevity, the ability to play without sound, a focus on soft news and a strong emotional element.

Monetizing online news continues to be problematic for publishers, with on-site monetization efforts often relying on pre-roll ads despite poor user experience, according to the report.

Despite the apparent lack of demand for video, video ads are still the best way for many marketers to drive engagement with their brands, argued Caroline Hugonenc, vice president of research at native video platform Teads.

“The question for both brands and publishers is how to deliver video ads more effectively; either as pre-roll in advance of video content or simply inserting them into written editorial content with outstream formats. This report suggests that the latter provides brands with a far larger and more engaged audience.

“These findings should be heartening for publishers which have decades of experience creating the insightful editorial which audiences love, while video is far more time consuming and costly to produce. It is also good news for brands which now have more information to help them ensure their carefully crafted, powerful video ads reach a receptive audience of millions of readers in a premium and brand safe environment.”

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