How do you like your news in the morning? Survey reveals UAE media consumption trends

Nicky Marks, founder and MD of Censuswide, talks media consumption habits - and how PR pros in the UAE should be in the know.

Nicky Marks is founder and MD of Censuswide
Nicky Marks is founder and MD of Censuswide

Media consumption habits continue to be ever-changing and with Gen Z digital natives now adults and firmly in the workplace, it’s only bound to keep evolving.

In the last five years alone, we’ve seen podcasts make a huge comeback, TikTok launch, the introduction of Instagram Stories and global internet use all accelerate exponentially.

PR pros are expected to stay two steps ahead and inform strategies that can capture a wide-ranging audience at the right time, in the right place, with the right message. It’s no mean feat and we salute you.

We wanted to strip this all back and dig into the daily habits of UAE residents when it comes to their media consumption throughout the day and the results produced some interesting trends...

AM vs PM

One overriding trend, that’s come out of our survey of 1,000 general consumers in the UAE, is that people in the UAE are consuming news media in the morning and lifestyle media in the evenings. For example, online news consumption is highest in the early morning (22 per cent), followed by mid-morning (21 per cent) and then lunchtime (17 per cent). Radio is consumed most in the early morning (13 per cent), followed by mid-morning (11 per cent) and then early evening (11 per cent). Again, echoing this, print newspapers and magazines are consumed most in the early morning (10 per cent), followed by mid-morning (10 per cent) and then lunchtime (8 per cent).

However, when looking at lifestyle media, the consumption habits tell a different story. UAE residents consume social media, for example, the most in the evening (43 per cent), followed by afternoon (42 per cent) and then lunchtime (41 per cent). Additionally, respondents consume blogs most in the early evening and podcasts most in the evening.

This follows the media trends to break stories in the morning and follow up with analysis and updates in the evening. And it makes sense, our phones are often pinging with notifications of the latest, breaking news in the morning that will affect our businesses, customers, families, friends or the world, so that we can make informed decisions about the day. The evening then gives us a chance to wind down, enjoy the content that’s a lifestyle choice or listen to the analysis pieces. Many content and pitching strategies do, and should, follow this pattern.

Social media continues to dominate

It might sound obvious but an average of two in five (39 per cent) UAE residents consume social media across the various points in the day and almost half (49 per cent) of women are using it in the evening.

In addition, social media was the most consumed media throughout all points of the day, bar two exceptions. Firstly, respondents aged 35-44 are more likely to consume online news than social media in the early morning and those based in Fujairah are more likely to consume online news in the evening than social media.

Women consumed social media more than men at every point in the day, while men consumed online news and print newspapers/magazines at every point in the day more than women. Unsurprisingly, older age groups such as 35-44 consume social media less than 16-24 and 25-34-year-olds, generally.

Another piece of research found that just over one in seven (15 per cent) UAE consumers had a goal/resolution for 2020 to spend less time on social media, which increased to a fifth (20 per cent) for 16-24-year-olds.

The results have shown that social media isn’t going anywhere and should be incorporated into PR strategies if they aren’t already. Indeed, by putting social at the heart of a strategy, it can often lead to sharable, conversation-sparking stories. With that said, our research shows that radio, blogs, podcasts, print, and online news are not be ignored to reach audiences, so a strategy that unifies all the touchpoints of media is sure to be a winner.


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