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…