Summary:

The monthly ABCe figures don’t give much away about the absolute worth or success of newspaper websites — they only show relative growth…

The monthly ABCe figures don’t give much away about the absolute worth or success of newspaper websites — they only show relative growth over time. On that basis the national newspapers are all doing well, with Guardian.co.uk just under the 30 million mark for unique users in January, helped no end by its US audience. But the top five all have sites over 20 million uniques, so any real difference between them is not only negligible but very likely to change over the months and years ahead.

Neither is traffic growth an indicator of commercial success – Associated Newspapers’ online sales are now in reverse, while others are seeing drastically reduced or flat growth.

As for the regionals, the January figures mark the first time the top six publishers simultaneously published their own ABCe figures: Johnston Press came out on top with 6.13 million average monthly unique users for the second half of 2008, Trinity in second with 4.87 million and Newsquest third on 4.71 million. Johnston’s figure sounds good, but when you strip out Scotsman.com — Johnston’s biggest site and the largest regional site in the country with 1.95 million monthly uniques — you get 4.81 million, which divided between Johnston’s 323 sites is 12,945 each a month.

Disclosure: paidContent:UK’s parent company ContentNext is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Guardian News and Media.

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