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Pew Institute on US media

Pew Research Institute: how was the pandemic year for the US digital media?

How did digital news media develop during the covid year 2020? Practically all citizens in the US get some digital news on phones, laptops or computers. The US Pew Research Center makes bi-annual summaries of media markets. The latest report shows how traffic to digital news websites developed the year when many spent more time at home than ever before.

The average monthly unique visitors for major digital news outlets in the US was 32.1 million in the last quarter of 2020, up 11% compared to the same period in 2019, according to Comscore data. The average minutes per visit was 1.95, down from 2.13 minutes in 2019.

73% of the major digital news sites, both those born digital and those managed by traditional news media, have apps for at least one of the two main mobile platforms (iOS and Android). 64% have apps for both platforms, while 9% have just an iOS app. None only offer an Android app., Pew Research Centre’s bi-annual overview of the digital news market shows.

93% offer newsletters and 95% have an official presence on Flipboard or Apple News (88%). Three-in-four have podcasts, and 39% allow comments on their articles.

“These outlets are also highly likely to use social media as part of their outreach. All outlets studied have an official presence on Facebook and Twitter, while at least nine-in-ten have a presence on Instagram (96%) and YouTube (93%). Fewer outlets have accounts on TikTok (57%) and Snapchat (26%).”

“Digital advertising continues to grow as a proportion of total advertising revenue, a trend driven in large part by growth in advertising on mobile devices”, the Pew says.

In 2020, according to eMarketer estimates, digital advertising grew to $152 billion, an increase from $132 billion in 2019 and $111 billion in 2018. It was estimated to comprise 63% of all advertising revenue, up from 55% in 2019 and 49% in 2018.

Between 2011 and 2020, mobile advertising revenue increased roughly sixtyfold, from $1.7 billion in 2011 to $102.6 billion in 2020.

Desktop advertising revenue increased from $30.3 billion to $40.6 billion over the same time period. In 2020, mobile advertising revenue comprised two-thirds of digital advertising revenue on mobile and desktop devices, up from 5% in 2011.

“Looking more specifically at digital display ads, which include banners, videos and other advertisements that news organizations and other websites typically run alongside their content, revenue continued to rise for most formats in 2020”, Pew’s fact sheet says.

Video ads were the largest segment of this market in 2020 at $41.4 billion, growing 30% from the previous year. Banner ads also showed double-digit growth, rising 14% over 2019 to $35 billion in 2020.

Digital display advertising revenue continued to be dominated by just a few companies in 2020. Facebook comprised 45% of this advertising segment, according to eMarketer estimates. Google accounted for 10% of this segment, while no other company controlled more than 5% of this market.

In the mobile sector, Facebook had 60% of mobile digital display advertising revenue, according to eMarketer estimates. No other company controlled more than 10% of the mobile market.

Roughly 18 000 employees worked as reporters, editors, photographers or videographers in the newsrooms of digital-native outlets in 2020, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The median annual wage for reporters was roughly $73,000 and it was $69,000 for editors in 2020, while the median annual wage for photographers was roughly $75,000.


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