Daily Mail looks to make it big in the US

Mail Online has kicked off an aggressive push into the US, taking on editorial and sales staff at its recently established Los Angeles office to produce its first content dedicated to a US audience.

The UK’s most visited online publisher is pursuing mass-market audiences – the opposite of what News International is attempting with its paid-for content strategy for The Times and Sunday Times.

News International’s paywall, implemented last week and requiring users to register payment and demographic data, is expected to reduce its share of UK traffic by more than half. Internet monitor Hitwise reported a drop in its UK online newspaper market share from 4.37% to 2.67% during May when registrations were first being invited.

In contrast, Mail Online – which has had seven journalists and an in-house ad sales team working from Los Angeles for around a month – is preparing to expand its US editorial and ad sales capabilities around its showbiz offering. Over the coming weeks, the website will ramp up US showbiz content. It’s the first time it will have created content tailored to an overseas audience.

This development marks the latest in Mail Online’s efforts to monetise its US audience since rolling out behavioural targeting across US inventory last year and publisher Martin Clarke went public with US commercial intentions in 2007.

Mail Online has ranked top in ABC Electronic’s monthly reports for the past five months, averaging around 2.39m daily unique browsers in the UK. It also has daily worldwide traffic of nearly 2.4m unique browsers, according to ABCE’s May results. The report revealed that more than half of the site’s unique browsers are categorised as ’rest of world’.

Data from the Newspaper Marketing Agency’s April online analytics suggested that Mail Online’s celebrity gossip is engaging readers for longer than any other UK national newspaper website – up to 20 minutes a day.

Matt Adams, head of activation at media agency MEC Global Solutions, explained that selling cross-border traffic has historically been challenging because of a lack of supporting content. “Advertisers want to be associated with content,” he said. “From a sales perspective, budgets in North America are held there, so advertising needs to be sold there. That could be challenging, but content that’s relevant for the US market should make that easier.”

The Telegraph, Guardian and Independent have all partnered with overseas ad sales house AdGent 007 to monetise overseas readers. The Guardian, which also has significant international web traffic – 20.3m monthly unique browsers compared with Mail Online’s 26.3m, according to ABCE’s May figures – launched GuardianAmerica.com in 2007 to cater for its US audience.

To succeed commercially, Mail Online ought to explore its cross-platform commercial capabilities, said Adams. “US advertisers are looking more to integrated campaigns, tying up mobile with online, for example. More in-depth cross-platform work would be advisable,” he said.

James Bromley, MD of Mail Online, declined to comment on the site’s expansion plans but pointed out that its daily figures are comparable to those of Yahoo and MSN. “While we have a large US audience, it’s important to remember we have significantly higher UK figures than any other newspaper site,” he told new media age.

This story first appeared on newmediaage.co.uk

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