How we read the news on iPads!

By Lars Ørhøj | Jul 24 2014 | Insights

Are headlines more important than photos? Are we willing to pay for more in-depth content? Which display format do readers actually prefer? Read the answers to these questions in the report, "EyePad – Media consumption on tablets, 2013-2014".

denmark_kort3fd340f873598105492ae230904f1228ca2beIn partnership with CCI and Visiolink, the Danish School of Media and Journalism has mapped out the iPad media consumption habits of 12 families. The 12 families were spread across Denmark geographically and were all significant media consumers, and all households had owned a tablet for at least six months.

The results of the study can now be read in Peter From Jacobsen's report, entitled: "EyePad – Media consumption on tablets, 2013-2014". Among his findings are:

Readers are willing to pay for more in-depth content on digital platforms. On the other hand, they expect to be able to read the news in brief for free

"From a business perspective, media companies should take the profile of their products into consideration: if users are now clearly expressing a willingness to pay for in-depth content, but overview articles are something one finds anywhere and everywhere, then it becomes clear that the digital products one can expect to earn money from fall into the first category."

Headlines lead readers in the right direction

breezi_placeit_Heading9e170e96e07727968a"The findings of the Eye-Pad study underscore the importance of headlines, both in terms of attracting users to interesting content, and the way in which readers scan online pages for new content posted since their last visit."

"All signs point to the need for heightened awareness of the devices employed in the headlines' length, form of address and use of certain words – so that the headlines themselves both 'sell' the content in the most effective way possible (to meet the needs of the senders), and lead the users in the right direction."

Photos less important when selecting an article

"The study shows that the test group did not use photos very often. Some photos were briefly registered, while others were not noted at all; however, photos rarely had any significance when it came to readers forming their opinions 

  • prior to selecting an article,
  • as they read the article and
  • in summing up its content. 

E-newspapers are engaging


"The Eye-Pad study indicates that users were much more engaged when reading e-newspapers than news apps, where articles were presented as online news.": (The test subjects could select from two news apps. One was a 1:1 version of the printed newspaper, and the other was a news app based on the layout conventions of the internet.)

The e-newspaper's presentation forms are equally as popular

"The e-newspaper (the 1:1 version of the printed newspaper, ed.) offers users two different ways to read articles: one can either use two fingers to zoom in on an article and make it easier to read the body text in its original form – presented in columns, as per standard practice; or one can have the articles presented as pure text, without any visual elements.

When the test subjects opened the e-newspaper and selected an article, it was interesting to see that the two ways of reading the content were equally as popular. In other words, it is a good idea to continue providing users with the option of reading pure-text content."

About the study

The study lasted 2.5 hours and consisted of the following elements:

  1. A prioritisation task, in which the families were asked to map out and prioritise their media consumption habits – including how much they were willing to pay for the selected media channels.
  2. An eye-tracking test, in which one family member wore eye-tracking glasses and was then asked to perform a number of tasks with the tablet. The subject's eye movements were then recorded on the computer as they completed the tasks.
  3. Media-sociological video observation, in which video cameras were set up in the families' living rooms in order to document their use of the various media over the course of the evening.

Here is another study on reading on digital devices.

Lars Ørhøj


Lars Ørhøj

Lars is Visiolink's Chief Marketing Office and an avid a cappella singer in the world acclaimed Danish choir Vocal Line. He has been a part of the media world for over 30 years.