Mail Online has long reigned supreme as the most read UK news site, and more recently did the same worldwide when it knocked the New York Times off the top spot at the beginning of the year. But how does it plan to keep its crown going forward?
In many ways it’s a daunting prospect because when you’re at the top theoretically the only way is down.
But Mail Online is in a very strong position, particularly in the UK. It has held its position as the most read UK news site in the for 30 consecutive months now and with more than two million additional readers than it nearest rival, The Guardian, according to the latest figures from ABC, it will undoubtedly keep its leading position when the stats for August are revealed later this week (nma.co.uk 28 August 2012).
So how does it do it? Mail Online hasn’t always been the most vocal when it comes to publicly sharing insight about its digital strategy - at least not to the same extent as other publishers are - so it was refreshing to hear publisher Martin Clarke talk so candidly this morning at ad:tech (nma.co.uk 19 September 2012).
One thing’s for sure the publisher has no interest in charging for content as it remains focused on continuing to reach the widest possible audience, both here and in the US, and that approach means that it can offer advertisers a very attractive proposition.
The thing that advertisers now have to bear in mind though, is that in less than five years time more than half of Mail Online’s traffic will come from mobile. The publisher sees mobile as key to its growth strategy, so it should be high on advertisers agenda too.
And although Clarke said Mail Online is already making good revenue from mobile ads, the fact is most advertisers are woefully behind. He predicts that mobile advertising has the potential to make higher yields than online in the future, particularly with the increase of location-based ads, so advertisers really need to get on board and start experimenting.
One of the reasons Mail Online has grown so quickly is because of its forward thinking approach and design - four years ago when it launched its current website it was thinking of what the future may have to offer (although mobile possibly wasn’t on the agenda at that stage) and similarly as it designs its new site today it is thinking four years down the line.
That’s what brands have to do too. Get in there early and work with publishers like Mail Online to test things out and see what works. There is no definitive answer at this stage, and because we operate in such a fast evolving space there likely never will be. But those that want to prosper need to get in gear now.