Robin Neidorf Concluding FreePint's 2014 News Survey Analysis
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By Robin Neidorf


Robin Neidorf concludes the analysis of FreePint's 2014 News Needs and Preferences Survey by highlighting the key insights, what's changed over time and what's stayed consistent.


FreePint Topic Series: News, and BeyondThe seventh annual FreePint Survey: News Needs and Preferences provides valuable insight into the current state of organisational needs around news content, as well as how needs have changed over time. The market for news content, always highly competitive, has changed significantly since our first survey.

Perhaps more important, however, are the changes in the way that organisations think about and incorporate news content into workflows and content strategies. More and more organisations are thinking harder about the use-cases in which news content matters, and then matching the supplier to the use-case, rather than contracting for a global supply of premium news content and then fitting that supply to all use-cases.

At the same time, there are very consistent elements about organisational needs for news content, what organisations prioritise for purchasing and using news, and how key suppliers meet expectations.

What's Changed Over Time

When launching each year's survey, we make an effort to ask the same questions in the same way, so that we can conduct comparisons over time. We balance this approach with the need to add new questions that reflect today's marketplace and trends, while keeping the survey from becoming overly long.

In 2014, we were right at the limit of how much we could ask of respondents (thank you to the 342 respondents who dedicated the time needed to provide the data!), while still being able to track change in a number of key areas:

Non-Cost Resources Increasingly Used and Trusted

Our respondent pool is made up of information professionals who know the value of licensing access to premium sources. They also understand that end users of all kinds rely increasingly on non-cost sources to fulfil their need for news, particularly for current awareness and quick updates.

In interviews with customers, we hear more acceptance of this practice, although information managers naturally remain concerned about copyright and potential misuse. This is of particular interest since 61% of respondents report that their organisations have no policies in place about using content found on the web for business purposes. 

Mobile Demand Grows

We first asked about demand for news content via mobile device in 2009. At that time, information managers reported very little current demand for news content via mobile device, and only a little more demand was anticipated.

Today, both current and anticipated demand have grown significantly, although interestingly, information managers do not necessarily expect their news suppliers to meet that particular need. Rather, they are looking for more comprehensive solutions that meet user expectations that they can use their own devices to access what they need - news and other content as well.

Licensing Strategies Evolve

We asked respondents this year how they think about and address different needs - on the one hand the need for "current awareness" headlines and alerting information, and on the other hand the need for in-depth research. Based on both their survey responses and follow-up conversations with customers, we have learned that they are increasingly dividing out these needs with different suppliers, different budgets and objectives.

Some of these changes are driven or at least encouraged by suppliers: acquisitions and changes in product strategy mean that the market leaders Dow Jones and LexisNexis both have multiple approaches to meeting the need for news, and so an organisation can be maintain a single supplier relationship while taking advantage of different products' strengths.

Overall, however, the divergence in strategy for different use-cases reflects improved understanding about user preferences, increased willingness to accept risk (as such may exist) associated with lower cost solutions for current awareness, and ongoing pressures on the content budget to reduce or eliminate costs for a "news"-focused solution.

What Hasn't Changed

As interesting as changes are, consistencies over time are equally intriguing. 

Market Leaders

Dow Jones and LexisNexis continue to dominate the market for news supply. Factiva from Dow Jones is mostly likely to be named by respondents as their "primary supplier", and Nexis from LexisNexis is in use as either the primary or secondary supplier in the most organisations represented by the 2014 survey.

Top Requirements

The top-rated variables considered when acquiring news content have remained very consistent over the past several years. In addition to the quality of advanced searching built into the product, information managers consistently look for appropriate reuse/redistribution requirements and specific sources that are important in their industry and/or to their users.

"How" Matters As Well as "What"

Information managers also consistently prioritise quality customer service, effective training and useful communications in their suppliers of news content.

Future Analysis

In addition to the analysis in this report, FreePint is also preparing more detailed overviews on market leaders Dow Jones and LexisNexis, to help information managers better understand these market-leading options. Watch for these in early 2015.

And it's never too soon to start thinking about the next iteration of this project: the 2015 survey will be developed and launched in September, and based on respondent feedback will likely break into two segments to reduce the time burden of participation. Watch for the call to participate in the FreePint Blog.

Further Reading

Read the Introduction to FreePint's 2014 News Survey Analysis.  

In-depth analysis can be found in the following FreePint Subscription Articles:

Full report (PDF) contains all of the above content, in a convenient package for reference and sharing:

This Blog Item is part of the FreePint Topic Series: News, and Beyond.

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