Yes! They spend more time on average with mobile long-form journalism than with short articles, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.
The total engaged time with articles of 1,000 words or longer averaged 123 seconds, compared to 57 for short articles. The two minutes may seem too brief but that is longer than most local television news stories, write Pew researchers Amy Mitchell, Galen Stocking and Katerina Eva Matsa.
The gap between time spent on long and short-form stories was consistent across time of day and the route taken to get to the content, according to the study conducted by Pew in association with the John S. and James L Knight Foundation.
The analysis was based on audience behavior metrics provided by the web analytics firm Parse.ly and covered 117 million “anonymized” cellphone interactions with 74,840 articles from 30 news websites in September 2015.
“These findings suggest that on small, phone-sized screens the public does not automatically turn away from an article at a certain point in time – or reject digging into a longer-length news article. Instead, the average user tends to stay engaged past the point of where short-form reading would end, suggesting that readers may be willing to commit more time to a longer piece of work,” said Amy Mitchell, Pew’s director of journalism research.
Other highlights of the report include:
- Cellphone news users spend the most time reading long-form content when arriving at an article from an internal link, and the least time when arriving via a social network.
- For both long- and short-form articles, Twitter tends to bring in people who spend more time with content while Facebook delivers more readers overall.
- Readers of both long- and short-form content spend the longest average engaged time late at night or in the morning: 128 seconds late at night for stories 1,000 words or longer and 60 seconds for stories shorter than 1,000 words. In the morning, the figures are 126 seconds and 59 seconds, respectively.
- Just a small fraction of users who access either a short- (3 percent) or long-form (4 percent) news story on their phone return to it on that phone, but those who do return to long-form articles spend 277 seconds, compared with 123 seconds for users overall.
- Both long- and short-form news articles tend to have a very brief life span.