Mail Online’s leap to the top of the ABCe chart in May has blown the race wide open for online supremacy among the national newspaper websites, according to senior online newspaper executives.
Associated Newspapers‘ Mail Online, which includes content from both the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, topped the table with 18.71m monthly unique users last month – ahead of Telegraph.co.uk with 18.64m and Guardian.co.uk, which slid into third place for the first time with 18.32m.
Despite being overtaken in the headline figures, Guardian.co.uk remains the leader in terms of UK-based monthly unique users with 7.66m, compared with Mail Online’s 5.09m and Telegraph.co.uk’s 6.07m.
Mail Online editorial director Martin Clarke said: ‘This reflects what we have been doing over the past two years and the steady and consistent growth we’ve made throughout. We’re pleased, but there’s still a hell of a lot for us to do.”
Clarke said Associated Newspapers was aiming to monetise its content overseas.
‘The reality is that the internet allows British newspapers to compete abroad in a way they’ve never been able to before. You can deliver it straight into people’s living rooms,”â€ˆhe said. ‘British newspapers are probably the best in the world and that’s a commodity we can sell.”
Emily Bell, director of digital content at Guardian News and Media said it was aiming to win the battle for global users as well as UK-based ones.
‘The UK unique metric is incredibly important in terms of the ad market – that’s the figure our team sell most of our inventory against,’she said. ‘But we’ve stated that our ambitions are global, we want to start narrowing the gap on the New York Times.”
Bell said it was inevitable that Guardian.co.uk’s eight-year dominance would not last ‘because eventually people were going to start doing the right things on the web”.
Ed Roussel, the Telegraph Media Group digital editor, said he expected that the top position will change a number of times this year.
‘We’re pleased with where we’re at now, we’ve come from quite far behind a year ago to the front line,’he said.
But Roussel added that the ‘real issue’was how to ‘deepen engagement’online.
‘We’ve got the breadth, how do we get the depth?’he said.
‘We need to turn it into a consumer product that has a sizeable audience but also one where people spend a lot of time, and one that is profitable.”
Independent.co.uk reported its debut ABCe for May, with 6.53m unique users, putting it ahead of the Mirror Group on 4.82m.