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Summary:

This’ll ruffle some feathers amongst rival editors. ComScore claims Sun Online is the UK’s most popular news website, with 4.29 million mont…

This’ll ruffle some feathers amongst rival editors. ComScore claims Sun Online is the UK’s most popular news website, with 4.29 million monthly unique users in March – ahead of Guardian.co.uk (3.6 million), Telegraph.co.uk (2.7 million), Times Online (2.6 million), Mail Online (2.4 million) et al.

That’s despite the increasingly standard ABCe metric for online news having put Sun Online fifth and virtually last on 13.8 million unique users that month, during which Guardian.co.uk led ahead of Mail Online, Telegraph.co.uk and Times Online (Mirror Group Newspapers posted its debut figures in sixth place).

Looks like we’re in for a repeat of the great online newspaper metrics war of 2007, when Hitwise figures based on the “visits” metric allowed Telegraph.co.uk to run marketing claiming it was “the UK’s most visited newspaper website” – a claim that, whilst justified, still wrankles with certain rivals.

None of this does anything for the sector’s credibility. The problem is, rival measurement agencies use varying methodologies to determine popularity. And we haven’t even begun to talk about Nielsen yet. At a time when the online newspaper industry is finally getting behind ABCe as its chosen measurer, advertisers were looking forward to certainty as to the effectiveness of their spend.

Instead, they get press releases like today’s proclaiming the world they thought they lived in is actually an upside-down counterpart of the real world. Certainly, the onus is on ad buyers to investigate those methodologies. But the time has come (again) to get responsible about the numbers…

  1. Of the magazines mentioned in the article, the SUN stands out as the one that has gone the furthest in implementing social networking functionalities. A comparison could be made with the biggest online paper in the Nordics, Aftonbladet (www.aftonbladet.se). In a country with 9 million people they have a WEEKLY audience of close to 4 million UVs. Part of this is for historical reasons, they grew up quickly, but a big part of this is that they have been really quick and extensive in letting the readers and user in to comment, discuss, blog and interact.

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  2. Sun Online got in touch to say comScore's figures are for UK traffic whilst ABCe bottom lines give global figures. Having jettisoned overseas traffic, Sun Online pointed out it placed fourth in March…

    Guardian – 7,731,573
    Telegraph – 6,045,285
    The Times – 5,631,264
    The Sun – 5,256,154
    the Mail – 5,105,385

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