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Malcolm Coles: How US traffic is vital for UK newspaper sites

July 30th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Newspapers, Traffic

This is a cross-post from Malcolm Coles’ personal website. You can read other posts by Coles on the Journalism.co.uk Editors’ Blog at this link.

The latest figures for UK users from the audited ABCes together with Compete‘s figures for American site usage show how USA traffic is vital for UK newspaper sites.

On average, US traffic is 36.8 per cent of the UK traffic (i.e. there is just over one US visitor for every 3 UK visitors). The figure for the Telegraph is slightly higher (44.5 per cent) and for the Mail it’s a massive 62.5 per cent.

Newspaper
site
USA
visitors
(Compete)
UK
visitors
(ABCe)
US users
as % of UK
Daily Mail 5,199,078 8,316,083 62.5
Telegraph 4,087,769 9,184,082 44.5
Times Online 2,805,815 7,668,637 36.6
Guardian 3,676,498 10,211,385 36.0
Independent 1,317,298 3,781,320 34.8
The Sun 2,419,319 8,704,036 27.8
Mirror 748,098 4,907,540 15.2
FT.com 5,960,589 n/a n/a
Express 63,216 n/a n/a
Average 2,919,742 7,539,012 36.8

These figures are all for June 2009. The FT wasn’t audited in June’s ABCes. The Express isn’t in the ABCes.

They are further proof that the Mail’s success in the June ABCes was driven by American searches for Michael Jackson’s kids.

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Malcolm Coles: Michael Jackson’s kids made the Daily Mail the most visited UK newspaper site in June

July 27th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Comment, Newspapers, Search, Traffic

This is an edited cross-post from Malcolm Coles’ personal website:

The Daily Mail surprisingly overtook the Telegraph and Guardian in the June ABCes – with more unique visitors than any other UK newspaper.

However it was only 4th in terms of UK visitors. Figures from Compete.com, which tracks Americans’ internet use, suggest that, of the 4.7 million unique users the Mail added from May to June, 1.2 million were from the USA. American and other foreign visitors searching for Michael Jackson’s kids – the Mail tops google.com for a search on this – drove this overseas growth.

US traffic to UK newspaper sites
This is what happened to US traffic for the ‘big three’ UK newspaper websites from May to June, according to Compete.com’s figures:

This dramatic increase in traffic, compared to its rivals, from May to June helps explains how the Mail leapfrogged the Guardian and Telegraph.

Traffic leapt from May to July

Google.com was the main referrer to the Mail – responsible for 22.7 per cent of its traffic. More on this below. Next up was drudgereport.com [a large US news aggregation site], followed by Yahoo.com and Facebook.com.

What was behind this rise in US traffic?
So what led to this sudden increase for the Mail? Compete also shows you the main search terms that lead US visitors to sites.

Top five search terms that lead US visitors to the Guardian

  • Guardian/the guardian: 2.6 per cent
  • Michael Jackson: 0.9 per cent
  • Swine flu symptoms: 0.6 per cent
  • Susan Boyle: 0.6 per cent

Top five search terms that lead US visitors to the Telegraph

  • Michael Jackson: 2.5 per cent
  • Susan Boyle: 0.8 per cent
  • Swine flu symptoms: 0.7 per cent
  • Daily Telegraph: 0.6 per cent
  • Michael Jackson children: 0.5 per cent

Top five search terms that lead US visitors to the Daily Mail

  • Daily Mail/Dailymail: 9.9 per cent
  • Michael Jackson (or Jackson’s) children: 2.9 per cent
  • Michael Jackson’s kids: 1.3 per cent

What does this tell us?The main keywords driving US search traffic to the Mail
The Guardian’s top five search terms, as suggested by Compete.com, accounted for just 4.7 per cent of its search traffic. The Telegraph’s top five for 5.1 per cent.

But the Mail’s top 5 accounted for a massive 14.1 per cent – split between searches for its brand name and for Michael Jackson’s kids (and outside the top five there may have been many other MJ-related terms).

Its search traffic in June is heavily skewed to these two search terms in the USA – and elsewhere in the world, I think it’s reasonable to presume.

Can this last?
Searches in the USA for ‘Daily Mail’ have been fairly consistent over the last few months according to Google Insights. I don’t know why so many people do this compared to other newspapers.

But I do know that interest in Michael Jackson’s kids is going to die down. This graph shows how there was a huge and sudden surge in searches for his children and kids after he died. The graph shows just two search terms – there are likely to be many others, and so a significant proportion of the Mail’s overseas traffic increase is down to search terms related to Jackson’s offspring.

Searches for Michael Jackson and kids/children shot up

This increase in searches translates into traffic for the Mail because it is currently TOP for a search on ‘Michael Jackson children’ at google.com and 3rd for kids (it’s also top in Google India for a search on his children, and India is the next most common source of traffic to the Mail after the UK and USA).

So all this data suggests that the Mail’s top spot in June’s ABCes is built on US and other worldwide search traffic around Jackson’s children – the massive peak in late June and again around his funeral in early July.

Once people stop searching for these terms, this traffic will disappear. The Mail may still top July’s ABCes on the back of this traffic – but it’s hard to believe it will still be top in August.

Methodology
You can, of course, pick holes in this argument.

The three MJ’s kids search terms account for 4.2 per cent of Google traffic, which accounts for 22.7 per cent of 5.2 million visitors – so about 50,000 users.

But I think it’s reasonable to assume that there are more search terms outside the top five; there are other search engines; and that the other sources of traffic, such as people sharing links on Facebook and news aggregators, will also partially be about Jackson’s children.

Plus this is the only publicly available data that I’m aware of, and this is the story it seems to be telling.

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Jon Bernstein: Five lessons from a week in online video

July 22nd, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Comment, Multimedia

It’s now four years – give or take a few weeks – since broadband Britain reached its tipping point.

Halfway through 2005 there were finally more homes connected to the internet via high speed broadband than via achingly slow dial-up. Video on the web suddenly made a lot more sense.

And given that we’re still in the early stages of this particular media evolution, it’s not surprising that we are are still learning.

Here are five such moments from the last seven days:

1. If you build it they will come…
…provided you build something elegant and easy to use. And then market it like crazy.

This was the week that we learned how the hugely successful BBC iPlayer has overtaken MySpace to become the 20th most visited website in the UK . The iPlayer is now comfortably the second most popular video site even if its 13 per cent share is still dwarfed by YouTube’s 65 per cent.

If you want more evidence of success just look at the BBC’s terrestrial rivals. ITV, Five and even Channel 4 – which had a year’s head start over the BBC – are now aping the look, feel and functionality of the corporation’s efforts. No hefty applets to download – just click and play.

Of course, this model – a different player for each network – will look anachronistic within a few years. Maybe less. Hulu arrives on these shores soon.

2. Don’t do video unless you’re adding value
If you are going to put moving pictures on your newspaper website it’s a good idea to ask why? And the answer should be that it adds something to your storytelling.

Last week the Independent completed a deal that sees the Press Association providing more than 100 90-second clips a week, each focusing on a single news item.

Nothing wrong with the quality or content of the video that the Indy is getting, but where’s the added value? Unless the video has some killer footage or a must-see interview, why would a reader of a 500-word news article click play? I’m not sure they would.

As someone eloquently put it on my blog:

If it’s visual, it needs pictures and maybe video. If it’s verbal, sound will do. For everything else, words are cheaper for the producer and quicker for the consumer.

3. You can’t control the message
Singer Chris Brown chose YouTube as the medium to deliver his first public pronouncements following February’s assault on his now ex-girlfriend Rihanna.

He plumped for the video-sharing site rather than a TV or newspaper interview presumably so he could control the message – no out-of-context editing of his words and no awkward follow-up questions.

To some extent he got his wish. Within 24 hours of posting his 120-second, unmediated mea culpa, it had been viewed nearly half-a-million times.

More significantly, however, the video had received over 12,000 comments and most were hostile.

4. Brands love YouTube
In an oddly defensive post on its YouTube Biz Blog, the people behind Google’s file-sharing site set about busting what it claims are five popular myths.

Putting ‘Myth 4’ to rest – namely that ‘Advertisers are afraid of YouTube’ – the post asserted:

Over 70 per cent of Ad Age Top 100 marketers ran campaigns on YouTube in 2008. They’re buying our homepage, Promoted Videos, overlays, and in-stream ads. Many are organizing contests that encourage the uploading of user videos to their brand channels, or running advertising exclusively on popular user partner content.

We wait, breathlessly, for a follow-up post so we can discover how many of these elite brands made a return on their YouTube investment.

5. Death becomes you
Nearly a month after his passing, Michael Jackson’s life is still being celebrated online. Eight out of this week’s viral video top 20 are either Jackson originals or owe their inspiration to the singer.

A case of the long tail occupying the head. For a few weeks at least.

Jon Bernstein is former multimedia editor of Channel 4 News. This is part of a series of regular columns for Journalism.co.uk. You can read his personal blog at this link.

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CNET: Traffic surge to news sites as web holds (just) for Jackson memorial

CNET has a great overview of the traffic surge to news sites caused by coverage of Michael Jackson’s memorial last night.

According to the report, Ustream, which provided livestreaming of the event in partnership with CBS, said it was the largest ever event hosted on the service with 4.6 million streams and 12,000 messages posted every minute to the chatrooms surrounding the streams.

[Also see Lost Remote’s post on MSNBC.com’s aggregation of tweets around its livestream]

Figures from web usage monitoring company Gomez International suggest news sites were less available, because of the slowdown caused by video streaming, with some taking nearly triple the time to load pages.

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Data Center Knowledge: Ads and widgets slowed news sites during Jackson surge

An article from Data Center Knowledge cites evidence suggesting that advertising networks and widgets could have been key factors in slowing news sites during the surge of internet traffic as news broke of Michael Jackson’s death.

“Keynote Systems, which provided early data on the sluggishness of news sites Thursday, released an analysis late Friday that highlighted the role of third-party content.”

Full story at this link…

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Trust 2.0 – reports of MJ’s death are not greatly exaggerated

It was fascinating to watch the Michael Jackson rumours hit Twitter late last night (BST) and the mixed reaction to the initial TMZ.com report. An AOL/Telepictures Productions entertainment news site and renowned for having its finger on the pulse, but not quite big or well-known enough to risk the re-tweet or the MSM endorsement? Should we trust it, should we not? The links and telling tweets are reproduced here:

TMZ.com breaks news of the death first:

“We’ve just learned Michael Jackson has died. He was 50.”

mj2

Many journalists were playing it safe, even with their own personal tweets. Even the ‘semi-journalists’:

Then… a few comments about the weird news culture we live in. Compare the way you heard about Princess Diana to this, for example. This from Meg Pickard, the Guardian’s head of social media development:

But were people being unduly cautious? Ashley Norris – of Shiny Media fame – offered this:

The Sun (by an unnamed ‘online reporter but it has now been updated and by-lined) and the Metro (by a by-lined reporter but the link is now dead) – and others too no doubt – tentatively go with ‘reportedly dead.’ And actually attributed TMZ. Then, phew, a mainstream media source finally gives us likely sources to cling onto. The LA Times.

latimes

Around 23.35 BST (22.35 GMT):The BBC goes for it on TV. In its special breaking television news report on BBC1 after BBC Question Time, and before This Week, they say that Jackson is reported to be dead: citing the LA Times as the main source, then TMZ.com, and then add that the Associated Press is also reporting the death.

Now everyone’s sure that he is dead. The Guardian gets this wonderfully comprehensive tribute article up very quickly (23.26 BST).

TMZ were the winners of the night with publicity all round. Check out the quote from Alan Citron, founding manager for TMZ but who now works for Buzz Media in an email to Beet TV last night:

“TMZ has drifted into a lot of juvenile satire lately, but Harvey’s [Levin, managing editor of TMZ] still the best when it comes to serious celebrity news reporting. It’s highly likely that TMZ will own this story.”

This lovely tweet from @PJButta says it all:

More views on TMZ and trust on Twitter.

As for the print? According to Paul McNally,

One more link-to-print here: the Guardian’s newspaper front page slideshow (presumably a later edition for the Sun).

What have we left out? Leave links and comments below, if you’ve got anything to add.

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