Mail Online and The Guardian both get record traffic in latest Nielsen online rankings

The Mail Online and The Guardian have both rocketed up the latest Nielsen Online Ratings in March, with the two UK outfits both posting record audiences and taking out sixth and eighth place in the latest survey.

While the overall top five spots stayed the same, with News Corp’s retaining the coveted number one spot, the audiences of all the major publishers grew significantly on the back of a major overhaul of Nielsen’s methodology and systems revealed by Mumbrella yesterday, which saw the research firm find two million extra online Australians and the company post a record 17.5m Australians in the online universe.

Martin Clarke, publisher and editor-in-chief of the MailOnline told Mumbrella he was very pleased with the result for the Australian operation, which is now approaching 50 staff, but has yet to formally launch a full Australian-oriented homepage. “This is really encouraging since we’re still only just getting started in Australia,” added Clarke.

Nielsen online top ten news sits March 2014

Nielsen online top ten news sits March 2014

“I can’t wait to see what happens when we bring our full Australian news operation online in the coming months.”

Since its Australian arrival was announced in November the Mail Online, which is described by its UK rivals as “journalism crack”, has risen steadily up the rankings entering the top ten in December and reaching eighth in February.

Nielsen revealed the majority of the Mail Online’s growth was due to referrals from NineMSN’s homepage, to tabloid stories such as those around Nicole Kidman and Brynne Edelsten.

However both publications remain well behind their News Corp and Fairfax Media rivals and in overall time spent on the site, suggesting that while Australians are now reading these sites they are also still engaging with the traditional mainstream Australian sites. had a time spent per person of 1 hour 43 mins and 1 hour and 12 minutes compared with just 41 minutes for the Mail Online and 27 minutes for The Guardian.

The Guardian has moved in and out of the Nielsen top ten ratings with an audience that has shifted between 1.09m and 1.3m. The new methodology sees The Guardian post a record Australian audience after months of discussion between the publisher and Nielsen over what the newspaper said were inconsistencies between its internal Comscore data and the IAB endorsed Nielsen figures.

The Australian operation of The Guardian, run by Katharine Viner, has said Nielsen has not been adequately showing its mobile traffic. “Today’s Nielsen ratings go some way to reflecting an incredible March for Guardian Australia,” Viner told Mumbrella. “I’m delighted that we continue to smash our readership targets as we approach one year since the launch of Guardian Australia.”

According to Nielsen, The Guardian recorded significant growth during March specifically from female audiences (up 38 per cent), with most other news sites recording audience gains from males.

Nielsen’s changes announced yesterday, which saw major changes to the consumer panels used in the ratings along with a new data processing platform appear to gone some way to addressing this issue with a 23 per cent increase in their traffic.

“This is just one step,” said Monique Perry, Nielsen’s head of media industry group. “The next step will be adding in the mobile and tablet panel, which is in a 2014 pilot with the IAB, and we will be looking to incorporate that into our currency measurement next year.”

One of the challenges this month is separating a big month for news with stories such as the MH370 missing plane and the overall increase in the Nielsen online Australian universe. Perry warned yesterday: “What we will see for these sites is that the reach percentage doesn’t change, but when you change the universe by 2 million and you are calculating reach on a much bigger number, then all the unique audiences increase.

“Yes, the challenge we have this month is we will have a big trend break and it was also a big news month with lots of news, so it will be hard for us to differentiate what is organic increases in audience and what is a trend break.”

Nielsen’s numbers also show Buzzfeed Australia’s online unique audience growing to 1.6m while The Australian was also up to an online audience of 1.2m.

The changes come as the IAB prepares to retender the lucrative contract to be its preferred supplier, which ensures whichever audience measurement company wins the tender becomes the currency on which all online advertising is bought. Nielsen has held the contract since 2011 and had the contract extended last year without a tender.

Nic Christensen 


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