TikTok Logo
Subscribe

WhatsApp rises as a major force in news media

   NEWS / 29 Jun 2017

WhatsApp is becoming one of the prevailing ways people discover and discuss news, according to a study.

But use of the messaging app appears to vary widely between countries.

In Malaysia, more than 50% of those surveyed said they used WhatsApp for news at least once a week. But in the US, the figure was only 3%, and in the UK it was 5%.

The Digital News Report also indicates the Brexit debate has led to growing mistrust of the UK's media.

It said only 43% of respondents declared that the news could be trusted - down from 50% last year - with the BBC in particular criticised for having both a pro-EU bias and failing to expose the "distortions" of the leave campaign.

Private is popular

The research was carried out by the Reuters Institute For The Study of Journalism and covered 34 countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia, in addition to Taiwan and Hong Kong. It was sponsored by the BBC and Google among others.

A total of 71,805 people were questioned by YouGov in January and February to generate its data.

Facebook still leads, but WhatsApp is on the rise
Percentage of people using each service at least once a week
 

The results indicate that Facebook remains the most popular social media and messaging service for news engagement in all but two countries - Japan and South Korea - where, respectively, YouTube and Kakao Talk dominate.

But it adds that use of Facebook for news had dipped in more than half of all the territories where a year-on-year comparison was possible.

By contrast, sharing news stories and chatting about them appears to be on the rise within private instant messaging apps, and WhatsApp in particular.

According to the report, WhatsApp is now the second most popular social service for news in nine of the 36 locations, and the third most popular platform in a further five countries.

WhatsApp is a leading news source in some countries
Percentage of respondents using WhatsApp for news on a weekly basis
 

The authors provide several potential explanations for WhatsApp's rise.

Its use of end-to-end encryption means messages can only be seen by their senders and recipients, offering users protection against being monitored by the authorities.

"Some of the biggest growth we've seen is in places like Turkey, where it's positively dangerous for people to express anti-government preferences on open networks like Facebook," explained one of the study's authors, Nic Newman.

"As a result people are using closed groups where they are more confident of expressing their views."

WhatsApp has also benefited from the fact that in much of Latin America and elsewhere mobile networks are offering unlimited data use within the program, so encouraging its use.

Furthermore, several Spanish and Chilean media outlets have embraced the app. Radio stations commonly ask listeners to send in short voice recordings via the service, and local news sites have added share-to-WhatsApp buttons to their pages.

However, Mr Newman said beyond that, it was difficult for the media to take advantage of the app's popularity beyond publishing stories that people want to share.

"You can set up branded areas or groups of people on your own, but it's incredibly clunky and time consuming, and there are few tools to help," he explained.

"And part of WhatsApp's appeal is that users don't get interrupted by brands, making it a very pure form of messaging. That's something [its developers] will really try to hold to."

Too close to power

The report also highlights widespread concerns about so-called "fake news".

It highlights users' suspicions that social media's lack of rules and use of viral algorithms have helped low-quality false stories spread quickly.

But it says there is also strong distrust of the mainstream media, in particular in Asian and central, southern and eastern European countries, where the industry is perceived as being too close to government.

Fewer than one in four South Koreans trust the news
Percentage of residents who trust the news most of the time
 
 

This year's Digital News Report is even more sobering than usual.

Many of the institutions that contribute to democracy in the West are undergoing a crisis of trust. News providers are no exception. UK citizens' trust in news "in general" has fallen by 7% since the Brexit referendum, the report suggests.

That is a worrying drop. Combine it with Reuters' revelation that the proportion of people paying for online news in the UK remains "among the lowest of all countries" surveyed, and alarm bells should ring.

One reason for this could be the BBC, whose dominance in our news ecosystem might mean fewer people feel the need to pay for good information.

For a new generation, the link between high-quality general news and payment for that news might be breaking.

The internet has made general, daily news a very common commodity. With tech giants like Facebook and Google eating ever more of the advertising pie, news providers may find they have to specialise if they are to get audiences to part with cash. And those audiences won't pay for content they don't trust.

Rebuilding that trust, in an era of digital echo chambers and fake news, is going to be tough. But it must be done.

Yahoo News remains the most popular online news brand, in terms of the numbers of people using it at least once a week, across the 36 markets as a whole.

It also ranked as the top online source of online news in the US, Japan and Taiwan.

Its success may have been driven in part by the fact many users said it was better at delivering "amusing and entertaining" content than the competition.

 

Yahoo's big US audience helps it lead the world
Percentage of people accessing each site per week (international)
 
 

Other findings reported include:

  • dedicated news apps appear to be making a "comeback", but this is thought to be because existing users are making more regular use of the programs rather than there being a surge in the number of new installs
  • Apple News is one of the fastest growing news aggregator services, with some publishers reporting that up to a third of their mobile traffic now comes from the app and its related widget, which flags stories on iOS devices' search screens
  • online video remains a tough sell, with nearly half of respondents saying they had not consumed a clip on a news site or via social media in the past week

Blocking ad blockers

Making money from online news remains problematic.

The study said 84% of respondents had not paid for content in the past year.

However, it highlighted that there had been a "Trump bump" in the US, where several newspapers had attracted hundreds of thousands of new digital subscribers, many of whom have left-wing views and are under 35.

Another development that will be welcomed by the industry is that the use of ad blockers on desktop PCs appears to have stalled and remains low on smartphones, with only 7% of respondents saying they had installed advert removing software on their handset.

Moreover, a "tough love" approach taken by some publishers - whereby they block access to their content if an ad blocker is in use - appears to have convinced many users to at least temporarily suspend the plug-in's use.

x

Woking Shopping Centre WokingTV

WokingTV Video Production and Promotion

As a leading regional shopping centre destination Woking Shopping needed to join up a number of platforms to help highlight new retailers and restaurants at the centre as well as a new market area.

Why Media produce monthly videos for WokingTV, and manage all elements including storyboards, planning, filming, editing, video promotion across social media and integration into the website.

x

Go Epsom

Campaign Branding

Go Epsom is the campaign created for Epsom BID. The colourful and vibrant campaign branding was created to promote the town of Epsom, Surrey.

The colour palette and facets were selected to reflect the individual aspects of the town such as shopping, dining and entertainment, while still working together as a whole to form the brand identity.

x

Blue Whale Capital

Bespoke Website Design & Development with Custom API Integration

Blue Whale Capital approached Why Media in a quest to create a modern, functional and tailor-made website with a partner they could work closely and honestly with for this project and their future design and marketing needs.

The website is functionality focussed and incorporates a bespoke API to allow visitors to invest directly through the website. Each call-to-action has been carefully considered to enhance the user journey and ultimately encourage visitors to invest with the company.

x

Bovis Homes

Stanton Cross Website

Bovis Homes build some of the best new homes in the UK that are great places to live. Stunning new homes and apartments for sale right now.

Why Media were commissioned to design and build a bespoke website for the Bovis Homes Stanton Cross development. Stanton Cross is a brand-new community in the heart of Northamptonshire on the eastern edge of the historic town of Wellingborough. The website provides an engaging platform for the development and location information.

x

County Square Shopping Centre

Social Media Management

Located in the heart of Ashford, Kent, County Square shopping centre offers a friendly welcome to visitors from across the county and further afield. With more than 50 shops alongside cafes and restaurants, County Square is the local, relaxed choice for the community.

Since Why Media were appointed as the social media managers for the centre, the account has seen phenomenal growth in group numbers of over 1800%.

x

Goldschmidt & Howland

Bespoke Website, Photography & Video Production

Goldschmidt & Howland are North West London's Leading estate agent and letting agent servicing Hampstead Garden Suburb, Belsize Park, Kentish Town, Little Venice, St Johns Wood and more.

Why Media created a brand new bespoke website for the company to enhance their online presence, modernise the design of the website and ensure the site was optimised for search engines.

x

The Heart Shopping Centre

Magazine Design, Print & Distribution Management

The Heart Shopping Centre magazine is distributed every 6 months, delivering a Summer issue and Christmas issue. The magazine has been crafted to entice customers in the local area to visit the centre. The magazine is updated with each issue to tie in with the branding, event creative and any campaigns that are running and has proven to be a great success.

x

The Heart Shopping Centre

Event Management

Why Media manages and promotes the Heart Shopping Centre Kids Club events. The POS creative for the events is displayed throughout the centre in advance of the event and is also provided in all required formats for the website, social media and advertisements.

Following the successful for marketing of over 270 apartments at The Heart Walton-On-Thames for which the asset manager highlighted our part in the sales process as “You achieved a number of additional sales through your ability to market through Google” Why Media have been supporting the Digital Marketing at The Heart since 2006 and have helped the centre take the initiative long before its peers on a number of social media and digital marketing platforms.

x

Rivera Property Consultants

Branding & Corporate Stationery Design

Rivera Property Consultants is a leading company offering Property Sourcing, Sales and Lettings Management, Interior Design and Development.

Why Media were approached by Mr. Rivera, a property agent with over fifteen years of experience in the London Property Market, to undertake a full branding and website design project for his newly established business. The branding was crafted to present the company as high-end, professional and established. 

x

Larkfleet Homes

Larkfleet TV Video Production & Marketing

LarkfleetTV creates engaging content to promote the Larkfleet Group housing developments. Why Media plans, films, edits and promotes the videos for the company, helping to drive sales and raise the company profile.

x

ACAI Group

Branding, Website & Photography

Why Media were delighted to launch the new brand identity and website for ACAI Group, a property investment company with a number of high profile commercial, retail and land assets across the UK.

These assets include 8-10 Grafton Street in Mayfair, The Heart Shopping Centre in Walton-on-Thames Surrey and, the flagship store for high-end retail brand Dior on the prestigious Bond Street. The objective of the branding and creative element of this project was to inject colour, depth and a story behind the brand identity and overall messaging of ACAI (the initials of which represent the three owners of the company). Following completion of the branding process, Why Media delivered a full stationery package including business cards, letterheads and compliment slips and a comprehensive set of brand guidelines, ensuring the brand identity and reputation are protected through a stringent set of ‘brand rules’.