How Do CEOs Consume Content? Quartz Asked 940 Executives to Find Out

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Modern businesses are evolving at the speed of ideas in today’s information economy, making the job of CEO more complex, and more demanding, than ever. However, CEOs are expected to keep a pulse on the ever-changing cultural ecosystem that lives both inside and outside of their company walls, which makes the latest Quartz survey on executives’ content consumption trends all the more relevant.

Ever wonder how this group of super-motivated yet super-stretched people manages to stay informed while running top companies? Quartz certainly did, and set out to find the answer by asking CEOs and other senior leaders about their content consumption habits in its 2015 Global Executives Study, which was presented at the 2015 Digital Publishing Innovation Summit on July 17 in New York.

Quartz surveyed 940 executives in the top tiers of their respective organizations and from a range of industries and global regions to better understand how the world’s smartest, busiest people consume news every day, source and share industry intelligence—and respond to branded content and native advertising. Do they read news in meetings, or on the way to lunch? In the restroom, perhaps? How much time do they have for consuming content, in all its flavors, anyhow? (The answer: 30-60 minutes, for 39 percent of them.)

Quartz exec media consumption study

You may be thinking, “If these CEOs are so busy, how did they even find the time to participate in this survey?” Well, Quartz did a remarkable job in maximizing participation from its incredibly busy respondent base, by designing the survey with those hard-to-reach executives in mind. The survey was a fast-paced mobile and desktop experience with simple, yet engaging questions. As a result, Quartz received a nearly 50 percent completion rate from its participants.

Five insights presented by Mia Mabanta, Quartz’s Director of Marketing and Revenue Products, to Digital Publishing Innovation Summit participants:

Executives make the most of their morning
Not surprisingly, executives get up early to do most of their news consumption. About 75 percent of respondents said they read news in the morning, and about half of respondents said they read news upon waking up, often while still in bed, or at the breakfast table. Many executives (about 12 percent) say they read the news on their way into work, and immediately upon arriving at their desk. As the day goes on, the percentage of respondents checking news drops significantly.

Quartz CEO survey 2015

Mobile first; everything else, a distant second
Nearly 75 percent of respondents said they primarily consume content on mobile devices (50% said mobile phones specifically), a quarter of executives claimed to consume content primarily on desktops, and only one percent said they relied on print materials for news content.

Quartz mobile survey executives 2015

The inbox is the new homepage (email still rules)
Executives are less likely to jump from homepage to homepage when looking for news, because most of what interests them already lives within their inbox. About 60 percent of respondents say they get their news from an email newsletter.

Quartz executive survey 2015

Quality content gets shared

Quartz’s survey found that 91% of executives are likely to share work-related content with others, if they find it valuable. No surprise given the preference for email above, email is also the most common method for sharing content they deem worth sharing (80 percent  of executives use this method), while only 36 percent of executives said they use Facebook to share content. Content with charts, quality photography, and interactive features were most likely to be shared.

Quartz executive survey news consumption sharing

Quartz 2015 executive media content consumption survey

Executives want to hear what brands have to say
There is interest in brand expertise, as 84 percent of executives are genuinely interested in content from brands. Within branded content, 84 percent find value in industry analysis articles, 60 percent in interviews from company leaders, and 47 percent in product experience features.

As the stats below also indicate, as publishers continue to spend big money on high-quality branded content, they should take comfort in knowing these articles are being read by some of the most powerful people in their industries—proving the ROI of investing in smart content, whether you’re a media or brand publisher.

Quartz 2015 executive content consumption brands

Quartz 2015 executive survey - share of executives interested in content from brands

Quartz 2015 executive survey branded content by type

Quartz 2015 executive survey sponsored content

—Stephen Guss is a content (in all senses of the word) brander based in New York.

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