Failing to classify US and UK readers as separate entities could be a costly error, warns a new survey from Reuters.

New research from the group’s Institute for the Study of Journalism shows that while US readers are more than happy to visit new websites for their content, British audiences will typically stay loyal to their tried and trusted sources.

Digital publishers are therefore being advised to swot up on the consumption habits of both countries and establish the best ways of reaching out to their global audiences.

UK/US divide

Conducted in partnership with Newsworks, the marketing body for Britain’s national newspapers, the survey invited responses from over 18,000 readers in ten different countries to evaluate new trends in the consumption of digital media.

Readers from across Europe were involved in the study, but it was the differing attitudes between US and UK audiences that took centre stage.

The research suggested that UK readers tend to start their news journeys with a visit to traditional and trusted media outlets. Over half of 21-24 year olds considered digital newspaper brands as their go-to sources for new information, with 44% valuing the importance of having journalists for the sake of trust.

Yet across the Atlantic, US readers were found to be among the most likely to visit digital pure-player sites such as Buzzfeed and The Huffington Post for their scoops and accept content from digital newcomers.

US audiences were also more likely to use search as their main gateway to content, therefore opening the doors for new digital publishers to make their voices heard.


Judy Harman, planning director at Newsworks, hinted that failing to recognise the habits of audiences across different countries could be a huge mistake to make.

“We tend to forget that the UK doesn’t always follow the US when it comes to media consumption”, she commented.

“While patterns of device ownership are similar, consumption patterns are not the same.”

Despite this, other readings from the study suggested that UK publishers can still generate success in other countries.

Sites happy to cater for their predominantly British audience were informed that reader habits across European nations including Denmark, Finland and Germany are very similar to those on UK soil, meaning international expansion may not be the tricky task it seems.