UK’s Mail Online holds top spot through combination of whimsy and savvy

If
someone is an internet user, there’s a decent chance they are reading the
newspaper online. According to 
comScore, 644 million people
worldwide visited online newspaper sites this October, which it estimates to be
42.6% of the world’s internet users. As their business models continue to tilt
away from print and toward digital, newspaper outlets around the world are
competing to win the attention of this large and growing
audience.

The
leader, by sheer size of audience, may be a surprise to hard-news junkies:
the Mail
Online
, the web outlet of the London-based Daily Mail. The
Mail Online’s website attracted over 50 million unique visitors in October,
comScore said, the most of any online newspaper. Despite a partial paywall
instituted in 2011, websites affiliated with The New York Times ranked second,
attracting over 48 million unique visitors, followed by two other
well-established outlets, The Guardian and Tribune
newspapers.
 

The
appearance on the list of People’s Daily Online (fifth) and Xinhua News Agency
(seventh) attest to the growing size and engagement of China’s internet
news audience.

The
Mail Online does not share much in common with its print sibling The Daily Mail,
and unlike The New York Times or The Guardian, does not feature much in the way
of original reporting on its website. Yet it has managed to grab a bigger share
of the online audience than either of those organizations through its relentless
focus on catering to the tastes of its global
audience.

The
Daily Mail’s editor, Paul Dacre, told The New Yorker in April that he
thought the Mail Online was succeeding because it had identified a large niche
in the news market:

“At its
best, American journalism is unbeatable. But the problem with many of your
newspapers is that they became too high-minded, too complacent, and
self-regarding … They forgot that there’s a huge market out there of people who
are serious-minded but also want some fun in their
reading.”
 

The
pressure for newspaper websites to attract large and lucrative audiences is only
going to increase. In the US, eMarketer estimates that
newspaper print ad revenue will decline and newspaper digital ad revenue will
increase in each of the next four years.

Corporate subscribers have access to all eMarketer analyst reports,
articles, data and more. Join the over 750 companies already benefiting from
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