Telegraph Locks Horns With Guardian Again On Traffic Hike

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The simmering war of words between Telegraph.co.uk and Guardian.co.uk bosses gets more and more like a feisty soap opera, from the sidelines. The two first fell out over Telegraph.co.uk’s 2006 claim to be the UK’s most visited newspaper site, according to Hitwise. When Telegraph.co.uk briefly took the top spot on the more accepted ABCe metric this year, Guardian.co.uk attributed its rise to it having changed its traffic measurement software. Now the Graun has regained the lead, Telegraph.co.uk is accusing it of using lowly search engine marketing tactics to buy keyword-based ads…

Telegraph Media Group assistant editor Justin Williams has been lobbing insults while digging around Guardian.co.uk’s search ads strategy. SEM is not an uncommon practice nowadays amongst newspaper sites looking to attract serendipitous audiences – but Williams also found the site had bought ads against the search term “Madeleine McCann”, excessive coverage of which, he pointed out, the paper has previously criticised. That’s all the ammunition Williams needs to call the episode “poor taste”, though The Guardian told Journalism.co.uk it was merely an error – its SEM contractor had bought the term without its say-so.

The two titles – which, credit where credit’s due, have both grown their audiences considerably this year – are basically scrapping to have theirs seen as the cleanest, most organic growth. Either way, growth is growth.

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MediaWatchdog

This spat is just bad PR for both papers. This issue is particularly hypocritical as the Telegraph admitted on their blog to using BNP coverage to drive traffic (Christopher Hope, October 2007). I don't think anyone can win a public righteousness battle over marketing tactics.

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