Mail launches online bid to conquer USA

Mail Online has opened a bureau in Los Angeles in a bid to expand coverage that will attract US readers.

Elliot Wagland, formerly the Mail’s online picture editor in London, launched the new bureau last month.

In Los Angeles, Wagland has so far been accompanied by journalists on secondment from the Mail in London. In recent weeks, however, Wagland has been advertising on Facebook for new recruits.

One of Wagland’s Facebook ads says that Mail Online wants to recruit ‘a freelance showbiz picture researcher to work in its Los Angeles office”. Candidates need to be ‘Photoshop proficient’and ‘have good US magazine contacts”.

According to sources at the Mail, the number of US-focused articles running on Mail Online has increased sharply in recent weeks.

Mail Online’s plans could signal a renewed interest in building audiences and revenues in North America among British newspapers.

Several years ago, The Guardian announced its ambition to become the world’s leading liberal news site. This was followed by the launch of Guardian America – a separate portal for US readers – in 2007.

In recent years, however, the argument has gained ground that sheer size of online audiences is less and less relevant commercially. The decline in online advertising yields has made international audiences less attractive. During the recession, The Guardian scaled back its US efforts.

It’s no surprise that Mail Online has emerged as the latest British news organisation interested in breaking open the US market. According to data from comScore, Mail Online now ranks as the world’s second-largest English language news site after the New York Times.

The core challenge for British newspapers venturing into the US market remains gaining a toehold in the nation’s huge ad markets. In the past, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent and Times Online have used outsourced sales organisations in the US with varying degrees of success.

The latest ABCE data made Mail Online the top UK national newspaper5 website with 40.5m unique browsers in April 2010.

According to ABCE, 57 per cent of Mail Online’s audience originates overseas. The proportions are roughly similar for telegraph.co.uk (65 per cent), times.co.uk (65 per cent), guardian.co.uk (58 per cent ) and thesun.co.uk (54%).

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