ABC vs ABCe: November 2008

Every month i’ll do a comparision between each of the UK’s major newspaper’s circulations and their online counterpart’s unique users.

I am going to do this over the course of 2009 (and beyond?) to see if there are any trends that take place. To start with, let’s take a look at November 2008, to find where we are stood on the brink of 2009.

Seldom Seen Kid November 2008 ABCs

Let’s begin by looking at The Sun. It is the most popular daily paper with a circulation of just over 3 million. But it is not the most popular paper online, that accolade goes to the Guardian, which gets over 26 million unique users per month, despite having a circulation of a mere 358,000.

What is the reason for this?

I would hedge a bet that the numbers that read the Guardian website abroad, are far greater than those that read the Sun. After all, are you more likely to believe a news story on the Sun’s website or the Guardian’s if you are judging both titles by their individual reputations before reading?

The unique users per month figure for the Guardian is staggering, but I think there are several factors for this.

1) Their website is easy to navigate and pleasant to look at, much more so than that of the Indy, for example.

2) The Guardian website is more rich in content, and the blogs are updated it seems much more often. Take the Guardian technology blog which is updated several times daily, even on a slow news day.

3) The Guardian’s website appears to be more heavily promoted – I rarely see the Independent’s site mentioned in the newspaper or in their adverts.

What I do find surprising is the Sun’s website and readership numbers, in contrast to their main rivals the Daily Mirror. The Mirror has roughly half the amount of readers yet a third of the unique users. What is the reason for this? Again I think that the perception of the paper comes into it, and I would hazard a guess that more foreign readers of English media are likely to have heard of the Sun than the Mirror.

As the year runs on, i’ll be able to include graphs and look in more depth at any trends that begin to form.

Will the Guardian keep top spot online or will the Daily telegraph regain it’s crown? Will newspaper sales slide as a whole, or will some do better than others?

Over the course of the coming months, we’ll find out!


5 thoughts on “ABC vs ABCe: November 2008

  1. Some interesting observations, I can understand why The Guardian does better online, just from pure random links people send me, more often than not, if it’s a newspaper story link, it takes you to The Guardian.

  2. That’s interesting – i wonder how many links that people send out go back to the Guardian, or the FT?

    It’d be interesting to know their trackback numbers…

  3. Lookingforward to seeing the trend later this year. Although it just occurred to me that old data for both, ABC and ABCe is available, so if you wanted to you could get a trend now.

    I agree with your observations, but in the end it boils down to the quality of the online offering (you say the Guardian online is better than the Indy, e.g.) on the one hand, and the type of paper on the other. The Sun demographic is still not online to the same extend that Guardian/Telegraph/Times demographics are. It would be interesting to know what kinds of article drive traffic for, say, Sun vs Guardian. How diggable are they etc.

    Look at, you will find some more detailed data; search words, e.g.

    Would you agree that overall offline and online readership is mostly unconnected? My impression is, people who would not be caught dead with a Telegraph (or a Guardian) on the train are happy to visit online.

  4. As an afterthough… If you’re going to look at the influence of overseas reader, have a look at the geographic segmentation in most ABCe certs; they tell you how many users were from UK.

  5. Hi John, thanks for the comments! It’s really appreciated :-)

    Interesting point about online and offline – certainly i’d never go out and buy the Telegraph, but i’ll certainly have a read of the website to see what they’re saying, whereas those who buy it probably won’t go online apart from the younger demographic of someone such as the Guardian who will want to read the blogs for example.

    Thanks for the NMA link, some really good snippets of info there – might be interesting to match compare UK and overseas trends as well in the upcoming months – thanks for the idea :-)

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