Report: 44% Of Google News Visitors Scan Headlines, Don't Click Through

Research firm Outsell has published its third annual News Users’ report, which is based on a survey about the online and offline news preferences of 2,787 US news consumers.

The Outsell report unsurprisingly predicts ongoing, steep drops in US newspapers’ print circulation as consumers continue to head online for news consumption and sharing, forecasting 3.5 percent annual declines in both daily and Sunday circulation by 2012.

Interestingly enough, the research also talks of what is referred to as the “dramatic effect” aggregators like Google and Yahoo have had on print and online readership.

Says analyst Ken Doctor: “Though Google is driving some traffic to newspapers, it’s also taking a significant share away. A full 44 percent of visitors to Google News scan headlines without accessing newspapers’ individual sites.”

Outsell says that for “news right now”, which I’m presuming are the most current news items, 57 percent of users now go to digital sources, up from 33 percent a few years ago. They’re also likelier to turn to an aggregator (31 percent) than a newspaper site (8 percent) or other site (18 percent). This is in line with what Erick Schonfeld recently wrote about media bundles dying at the expense of smart aggregators.

That the Internet is eating away newspapers’ readership bit by bit rings true to me, but frankly I have a hard time believing that close to half of all Google News visitors never click through to a newspaper site.

In my own experience, I find the summary that gets posted on Google News or other aggregators too short when a news item truly interests me, and I always end up clicking through.

How many of you treat Google News like a destination for online news consumption rather than a starting point?

Other findings from the report:

– Only 10 percent of news users are willing to pay for a print newspaper subscription to gain online access
– 75 percent say they’d turn to a different source for local online news if their newspapers required a paid subscription
– Local newspapers retain strength with local topics, such as family events and entertainment