Middle East newspapers need to get with the digital plan

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We’re on our smart devices, all of the time. We know that. What we also know is that the majority of us are getting our news from these smart devices.

So, going digital, according to the newly published Digital Media Index, is  “the right thing to do at this stage”.

A key finding, which might seem obvious to most, was that traditional media doesn’t attract people as much as the digital media does. Even the latter has to “keep looking for advanced ways to publish content in a way to attract the consumer’s attention”.

This new quarterly report, addressing media institutions and the digital transformation in GCC countries, covers the last quarter of 2016.

Tech company Ibtikar, Digital Research Company for market research, iClick for smartphone apps and Quant for data analysis all contributed in the creation of the index.

Active internet users in GCC. (Images via Digital Media Index)

The index was also able to find out which platforms these users accessed the most. Facebook was the most popular in the majority of the countries (75 percent), then came Twitter (49 percent) and Instagram (46 percent), then LinkedIn (12 percent).

Facebook was used by 97 percent of internet users in Qatar, 93 percent of them in Bahrain, and 92 percent of them in the UAE.

It was no surprise that Saudi Arabia scored high on Twitter usage amongst GCC countries with 53 percent. However, even in Saudi Arabia, Facebook attracted more internet users with 65 percent.

As for Instagram the UAE has the highest penetration rates with 56 percent of internet users, and high LinkedIn penetration rates with 18 percent.

Newspaper presence on social media.

How are newspapers present on these platforms?

Based on these numbers, the index studied 112 newspapers, getting to know their operating systems and the platform they use.

According to the report, newspaper started realizing the importance of online platforms (besides the website) in lowering costs, especially distribution costs, acquiring customers, and increasing profits. So, they went into the digital world.

As for communication platforms, 88 percent of newspapers use Twitter, 75 percent use Facebook, 66 percent use newsletters, 40 percent use Instagram, 39 percent use Google Plus, 10 percent use LinkedIn and 8.7 percent use Telegram.

In addition to that, the index reported that 40 percent of newspapers in the study have iOS apps, 38 percent have Android apps, while few have Blackberry and Windows apps.

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