Overall, it seems that papers that were originally slower off the digital mark (including some regional news websites) are recording the most impressive growth as they improve their online offering and play catch-up with the leading newsbrands.


Briefly, the online newspapers enjoying the highest average unique daily browsers were consistent throughout the first quarter of 2014 (a very healthy period overall as users continue to move in bulk from print toward online), with MailOnline leading the pack (11 million browsers – April 2014), followed by The Guardian (5.5 million browsers – April 2014) and The Telegraph (3.3 million browsers – April 2014). January saw impressive growth for most digital reads continuing the positive trend recorded since January 2008, as shown in the graph below.




Numbers dipped slightly in February for MailOnline, The Independent and The Telegraph. The Guardian was the only online title to see significant growth with a 7.8% increase in daily visitors.


The Metro’s online offering took a hit in March, with a loss of 12.4% of browsers. MailOnline however, which is owned by the same parent company, gained 25,000 online readers across the month. The Guardian continued to perform well in March (12.6% growth) whilst the Telegraph regained some momentum with 5.1% growth, rebuilding their audience following the blip suffered in February.


Whilst the growth of digital readership saw a slight dip in April across leading titles, the figures were well within the norms reported during similar blips in recent years. MailOnline (3.1% loss), The Guardian (3.7% loss) and the Telegraph (7.7% loss) all recorded marginally smaller audiences. The Metro continued to lose online browsers with a drop of 10.3%.


Despite this, as we see in the graph below, whilst online readership fell slightly among the better established digital newspapers, smaller titles picked up readers as they continue to improve their online offering by becoming more mobile friendly and producing better optimised content. The strongest audience growth was seen by the Express, up 16.7%, the largest percentage increase demonstrated by any newsbrand to date in 2014.


The Daily Star (6.0% increase) and the Standard (2.8% increase) enjoyed national growth, whilst regional news websites, The Manchester Evening News and The Liverpool Echo, pulled impressive figures drawing in nearly 250,000 and 200,000 average daily browsers respectively.


It appears that the dominance the better established newsbrands have enjoyed is gently settling as more local, smaller offerings and those slower to adapt to digital format catch up, creating a more competitive and diverse environment. This is great news for advertisers looking to invest in media space, with a larger variety of high performing websites better reaching specific demographics. We only expect this trend to continue.