Here are a few numbers – some of which may surprise you:
14 million – the approximate number of unique daily visitors to The Daily Mail’s website mailonline.com (source), the UK’s most visited newspaper website.
1.5 million – the approximate daily circulation of the print edition of The Daily Mail (source).
2 – the average number of minutes a visitor to mailonline.com spends on the website. Not two minutes per article, two minutes per visit – and this number is far higher than that of any of its competitors. The average across UK national newspaper websites is just 30 seconds.
43 – the number of minutes the average reader of the Daily Mail print newspaper spends perusing the paper (the average across all national papers is 40 minutes).
These findings – published by Munich and City University academic Neil Thurman show that despite online readership dwarfing print by an order of magnitude in terms of raw numbers across all UK papers, print is a long, long way ahead in terms of the total time spent actually reading the news.
For The Guardian and The Daily Mail – around three quarters of all time spent reading their content happens in print while overall, just under 90% of total UK newspaper reading time is in print – jumping to more than 95% for most national papers.
So despite a lot of bleak news for print newspapers in 2016 – with declining circulation reported by most papers, the failure of New Day (which took a bold leap into the unknown and almost immediately disappeared without a trace) and the closure of The Independent – there is something hugely positive in these findings for the future of print journalism.
There’s a reason that online advertising revenues are not covering the costs of modern newspaper websites. From an advertiser’s perspective, millions of views are largely meaningless if they are so fleeting as to be worthless.
Digital advertisers’ efforts to counter this with invasive pop-ups have also proved counter-productive as more and more readers invest in ad-blocking software to avoid them. This study puts into stark relief just how much value there is to advertisers in appearing in print – and also shows journalists that though their article will doubtless be seen more times online – it will most likely be read more times in print.
None of this is to take away from the immense challenges posed to print newspapers by the immediacy of online content and the fact that much of it is free to the consumer – but there is certainly evidence here, if more were needed, that whether we’re talking advertising or articles, taking the trouble to put it on paper means it will have eyes on it for longer.