From almost a standing start in the middle of 2007, the Daily Mail has risen through the ranks of online newspapers, overtaking the Guardian in February 2010 and snatching the number 1 slot in the market. In the 5 months since then, the Mail has stretched its lead – the latest ABCes revealed that the Mail Online had almost half a million more average daily browsers than its nearest rival.
It’s no wonder the Mail’s digital team are so bullish – rejecting paywalls outright, predicting a profit in 2011 and training their sites on the ‘big guns’ of the online world, MSN and Yahoo.
But who’s reading the Mail Online and why, and what sort of vehicle does it represent for premium and luxury advertisers?
Clearly, it helps to be one of the highest circulating print newspapers in the country, but the Mail’s own figures reveal that 78% of their online readers do not buy the print version. The readers of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday tend to be over 45 (and many are over 65) and in the BC1C2 socio-economic groups. The online readers tend to be younger (35-64) and more upmarket (ABC1). And of course, the Mail’s Online readership is predominantly female, with all bar 2 of their online channels (Sport and Science & Tech) attracting more women than men.
But what has the Mail done to attract this audience? In my view, there are several contributors.
The breadth of content on offer has helped – from news and sport to health, motoring and money. Also, the site is much more visual than that of its rivals, using more and larger pictures and integrating video. It’s also cleverly integrated user-generated content – catering not just to the ‘creator’ audience willing to comment but also the mass of ‘observers’ who are more comfortable rating comments than contributing themselves. But the main driver of growth has been the celebrity gossip focus which features on the Homepage and dominates the ‘TV& Showbiz’ and ‘Femail’ channels of the site. In fact, the ‘TV & Showbiz’ channel attracts nearly as many monthly unique visitors as the ‘News’ section of the site.
Not only has this diet of celebrity trivia catapulted the Mail Online into the number 1 slot, it’s also netted it one of the most loyal and engaged audiences online. 50% of the site’s visitors come direct rather than via search engines, 25% of its daily visitors come back more than once a day and almost 9% of its visitors come back 10 times a month or more.
But Mail Online visitors don’t just come back to the site regularly, they also stay for a long time when they’re there. Once 1 page views have been stripped out, Mail Online readers dwell for over 10 minutes – a figure only beaten by the Independent and Guardian.
So should the Mail Online form part of the online mix for premium and luxury retailers? For some, it already does. M&S ran a highly successful campaign that delivered a 2000% return in direct digital revenues alone. It’s also interesting to note that Thierry Mugler are currently using the Femail channel to promote their Womanity fragrance.
But for us, for most premium brands, the environment is not premium enough. And for fashion and travel brands in particular, rivals such as the Telegraph has stronger premium fashion and travel channels.
But for a masstige brand, looking to generate mass awareness and sales, the Mail Online could be the ideal fit.