October 24, 2013

The Role of News on Facebook

The Mobile Facebook News Consumer

One major area of worldwide growth in the last year has been in the mobile market – both in terms of technology development and consumer behavior. Facebook itself now derives roughly 30% of its ad revenue from mobile.

More broadly, mobile ownership in the U.S. has grown rapidly. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center study, a vast majority of American adults, 91%, own a cellphone, over half (56%) have a smartphone and a third (34%) own a tablet computer. But, desktops and laptops still have broader reach and remain the primary mode of digital news consumption.

This is also the case for Facebook usage among U.S. adults, the survey reveals – though mobile news consumers tend to check in more frequently throughout the day.

How People Access FacebookOverall, 88% of Facebook users say they ever access the platform on a desktop or laptop computer, while 53% access it on a smartphone and 28% access it on a tablet (61% access it on at least one mobile device). And when asked what platform they access it most on, the desktop/laptop again ranks first at 59% of all users, compared with 30% who mostly access Facebook through a smartphone and 8% who mostly access the site via tablet.

Among Facebook news consumers, the split is narrower, though desktop/laptop is still the primary device: 53% desktop/laptop versus 46% mobile.

Female Facebook news consumers are more likely than male consumers to primarily access the site through a mobile device (49% vs. 42%), as are younger Facebook news consumers compared with older consumers. Over half of Facebook news consumers who are 18-29 years old (56%) and 30-49 years old (53%) mostly access the site though a mobile device, compared with only about a quarter (24%) of Facebook news consumers who are 50 years of age or older.

Time Spent on Facebook Differs by DeviceWhen it comes to time on Facebook, the findings are split between desktop/laptop users and mobile users. Facebook news consumers who primarily access the site on a mobile device visit Facebook more frequently than their desktop/laptop counterparts. Seven-in-ten, 70%, mainly mobile users check in on Facebook several times a day versus 54% of mainly desktop/laptop users. But, desktop/laptop users tend to clock more total time on the site: 37% of mainly desktop/laptop users spend more than an hour each day on Facebook, compared with only 28% of mobile news consumers. Each of which may have different implications for the amount of news they encounter.1

  1. May 2013 data from comScore found that mobile minutes surpassed desktop minutes among people in the U.S. who access Facebook through both means. But that data did not take into account people who access Facebook only through a desktop or laptop computer.