MILLENNIAL’S ONLINE NEWS CONSUMPTION: 5 tips for news agencies to get their attention

How do Millennials consume news and how does the disrupted news Industry and news agencies need to act in order to their attention?...

25 Sep 2019 1731 Views
Image 1: Attention (Falls, 2018)

Written by Måns Claeson

If you belong to the millenials, as I do, you have most certainly attended a dinner with you friends when someone suddenly mentions an interesting fact about some of the latest news, seen on social media or some online news sites that I have never heard of. I have encountered a few such situations recently and have started to reflect upon how we, the millennials, consume and talk about news in today’s society. As a master student in International Marketing and Brand Management I became eager to find out how Millennials consume news and how the disrupted news Industry and news agencies need to act in order to get our ever so valuable attention. After a lot of digging, my findings resulted in 5 solid tips for news agencies how to do so…


I found that recent studies have suggested that society has been moving from an informational economy to what is called attentional economy (Crawford, 2015), that is well described by Matthew B. Crawford (2015);

“Our changing technological environment generates a need for ever more stimulation. The content of the stimulation almost becomes irrelevant. Our distractibility seems to indicate that we are agnostic on the question of what is worth paying attention to that is, what to value.” Crawford (2015)

He further mentions that attention is and should be viewed upon as a valuable resource. He write that people rarely claim for their attentional resources on behalf of themselves, and by means do not understand that it is a resource – at least not quite yet.

On the other hand, a lot of brands have realized the importance of seeing attention as a valuable resource. Leinbach-Reyhle (2016) discuss that modern society has led to brands engaging in a battle to win the consumers’ attention and Hennig-Thurau et al (2013) further argues that companies need to learn how to engage with consumers, to get their limited attention, time and emotional resources. 

But how should news agencies act to get the valuable attention of the millenials?


The news industry was one of the first to be tested by the large forces of digitalization from the middle of the 1990’s. The industry has been through dramatic changes with a large drop in traditional news consumption such as TV, radio and newspapers. But it has by this dramatic change to online services come to be one of the most matured digitized industries. (Acando, 2018). Most of the news agencies have had to change fundamentally and strategically often triggered by challengers, so called “infomediaries” or news aggregators, that entered the market with a focus on delivering the best possible online experience (Águila-Obra, Padilla-Meléndez and Serarols-Tarrés, 2007).

The technical and digital revolution have put a lot of pressure on news agencies and I believe that the digital society described by Hennig-Thurau, Hofacker & Bloching (2013) as a dynamic and chaotic game of pinball, is a good portrayal of the current situation.

Furthermore, I came across research saying that fake news flourishing on the internet have led to a lack of trust for a lot of brands within the industry and Allcott & Gentzkow (2017) argues that “The declining trust in mainstream media could be both a cause and a consequence of fake news gaining more traction”. Journalists are getting more conscious about what they write and publish and consumers less willing to believe what they read (Houghton, 2018).

But to reach, interact and get the attention of the millennials news agencies have to adapt their business model and offering. Well executed marketing tactics and content creation is some of the keys to solve the issue, but we first need to know how millennials consume news.


The Millennials’ limited attention is a reason why they spend far less time consuming news than the older generations. But how little news do they consume, really? I managed to find interesting data from a survey conducted by Pew Research Center (2018), saying that the millennials consume only 30% of the amount of news as people above 38 years. They also consume news and information in a considerably different way than the older generations (American Press Institute, 2015).

Image 2: Millennials (Ahmad, 2017)

Millennials tend not to use traditional media but rather spend their time on social media (American Press Institute, 2018). Their abandonment of traditional news consumption and strong social media presence have led to a high number of people consuming news in “bites” (often on mobile devices), using e.g. Facebook, twitter and Instagram as their main news source (Philips, 2018). According to Pew Research Center (2018) the number is as high as 68%. Another interesting fact is that even though fake news is one of the top concerns for a lot of social media users, convenience seems to be the determinant factor (Pew Research Center 2018).                                   

But even more interesting is that, according to the American Press Institute (2015), 85% of the millenials say that they think it is important to at least somewhat keep up with the news and 69% get news daily. They are further more likely to read news that their peers are either sharing or commenting, which often leads them to see a lot of diverse options. The answer then must be that the diverse selection of sources triggers what Van Dijk, J. (2012) describes as The law of the limits to attention. To conclude, the tough competition and a large supply of easily accessible information have led to news agencies having no choice but to pick up the fight of the scarce and limited attention of the millennials.


So, how should the news agencies manage to catch the attention and interest of the millennials in order to get the users into readers.

Having shed light on some of the challenges for the news industry in the attentional economy I have constructed 5 tips to get the attention of the millennials, based on creating interesting and arousing content (Henning-Thurau et al, 2013), increasing activity and online presence. “They must catch the attention of people who are trying to do something else, they must divert or intrude” (Deighton and Kornfeld, 2009)

Image 3: BBC News Instagram (Instagram, 2018)

1. An active role on social media
Since the majority of the millennials seem to get their news from social media, it is important to take an active role at the relevant platforms. Some news agencies are doing a really good job taking advantage of this and I believe that news agencies should take a look at how BBC use Instagram on a daily basis with interesting news reports, story-telling by visualization, questionnaires in the “Instagram Story” and much more. An active role also means maintaining contact with the readers, in e.g. comment fields and posts, which is further necessary to cope with the participating and interconnected role that characterize the millennial news consumers (Henning-Thurau et al, 2013; Acando, 2018).      

2. Visualization & moving pictures
Some of the most successful news agencies online have early on managed to adapt their content towards being more interactive, playful and visualised to get consumers attention. One of the winning concepts seems to be short videos and moving content on social media, to get people’s attention and get traffic to the website. This is not only increasing your visibility but adding value for the consumer (Acando, 2018).

Image 4: BBC Story (Instagram, 2018)
Image 5: BBC story landing page (bbc, 2018)

3. Make news easier to access
Millennials spend far less time on news than the older generations and have a very limited attention span. Make the content short and concise and stick to the point, to get the attention of the reader. Remember that millennials consume news in bites and that more extensive content usually leads to a smaller audience (Van Dijk, J., 2012). Furthermore, news agencies have to make sure that the content and formats it optimized for mobile devices, since there is a growing usage of mobile devices for news (Reuters, 2018). Convenience is, as mentioned, one of the most valuable factor for the millennials (Pew Research Center, 2018).

4. Podcasts outperforming radio
Podcasts are becoming much more popular in most countries and the millennials are much more likely to listen to news in a podcast format than traditional radio. They listen about twice as much as the older generation and the increased connectivity continuously makes it a lot easier to access media, and news, on demand (Digital News Report, 2018).

5. Voice search
Smart speakers such as the Google Home and Amazon Echo is increasingly becoming an integral part of our daily life which could open up a lot of exciting opportunities for news agencies. The majority of the users are utilizing it for information, weather reports and news (Digital News Report, 2018). According to Business Insider the smart speakers will reach 76,5 million units worldwide by 2020 and the average user is a millennial (Business Insider, 2018).

“Sending may be boundless, but attention is limited” – Van Dijk, J. (2012)


Acando. (2018). Mediebranschen – från sämst till bäst. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 November 2018].

Águila-Obra, A., Padilla-Meléndez, A. and Serarols-Tarrés, C. (2007). Value creation and new intermediaries on Internet. An exploratory analysis of the online news industry and the web content aggregators. International Journal of Information Management, 27(3), pp.187-199, Available through: Science direct website: [Accessed 21 November 2018]

Allcott, H. and Gentzkow, M., ‘Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 31, issue 2, 2017, pp.211-236, Available through: The National Bureau of Economic Research website: [Accessed 22 November 2018]

American Press Institute. (2018). How Millennials Get News. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 November 2018].

Crawford, M. (2015). The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction [pdf] [Accessed 20 November 2018]

Deighton, J. and Kornfeld, L. (2009). Interactivity’s Unanticipated Consequences for Marketers and Marketing. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 23(1), pp.4-10.

Digital News Report. (2018). Overview and Key Findings of the 2018 Report. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 November 2018].

Henning-Thurau, T., Hofacker, C., & Bloching, B. (2013). Marketing the Pinball Way: Understanding How Social Media Change the Generation of Value for Consumers and Companies, Journal of Interactive Marketing, vol. 27, no. 4, pp.237-241, Available through: Lund University Library website: [Accessed 15 November 2018]

Houghton, A. (2018). Fake news is the biggest challenge facing the media today – Gorkana. [online] Gorkana. Available at:[Accessed 24 November 2018].

Leinbach-Reyhle, N. (2016). 8 Ways To Gain More Attention For Your Business. Available Online: [Accessed 20 November 2018]

Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. (2018). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2018. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 November 2018].

Phillips, M. (2018). 5 graphs you need to see from Reuters Digital News Report 2018 – Twipe. [online]Twipe. Available at: [Accessed 22 November 2018].

Van Dijk, J. (2012). The network society. 3rd ed. London: Sage


Image 1
Falls, A. (2017)
[Accessed 28 November 2018].

Image 2
Ahmad, S. (2017) [Accessed 28 November 2018].

Image 3
Claeson, M. (2018) [Accessed 28 November 2018].

Image 4
Claeson, M. (2018) [Accessed 28 November 2018].

Image 5
Claeson, M. (2018) [Accessed 28 November 2018].

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Students from the International Marketing and Brand Management program at Lund University are the contributing authors for the BrandBase blog.