Newspaper Brands Online: NOA reveals online behaviour

Newspapers online analytics provides a consistent, in-depth approach to measuring traffic to the national newspaper sites. Here we uncover the reader's digital habits.

Newspapers online analytics (Noa) helps advertisers and planners to make better connections with the engaged and receptive mindset of online newspaper users, by revealing information about how consumers are using this powerful media channel.

Noa does this by providing more detail about the usage of national newspaper sites than has ever been available before. New information includes not just the size of the audience, but the types of content they are reading, when they are online and for how long.

The main national newspaper groups have agreed to a single, standard way of measuring traffic to help clients form a clearer view of how consumers engage with the sites' content. This gives agencies and advertisers more power to choose the right context for their advertising, to ensure messages are delivered to the right audience in the right mindset.

Noa measures traffic to the websites of newspapers published by the Newspaper Marketing Agency's member companies - Associated Newspapers, Guardian News & Media, Independent News & Media, Mirror Group Newspapers, News International, Telegraph Media Group and the London Evening Standard.

Noa complements and adds to several existing sources of information, such as ABCe, and the Guardian News & Media's Total Audience research. It not only records monthly unique visits and visitors to online newspapers, but gives information on unique visitors by day of the week and by time of day. It measures how long consumers spend on newspaper sites and what content is attracting the most traffic, as well as looking at whether newspaper sites are accessed directly or through search engines and what search terms are used to reach newspaper sites.

Noa also gives the best available estimate of the number of people, both in the UK and globally, who visit one or more national newspaper websites in a month. It does this by giving a monthly "de-duplicated" figure - stripping out from the global unique visitors' total those who visit more than one national newspaper website.

Noa is transparent and consistent. It records visits to websites by using tags on individual pages. The basis for the numbers is clear, they are published monthly on the Newspaper Marketing Agency's website and the same measurement techniques are applied across all participating websites.


Total traffic

Noa demonstrates the mass reach of online national newspapers. In June 2009, national newspaper websites received a net 26.7 million UK unique visitors, with a further 58 million from around the world.

Time of day

National newspaper websites never sleep, and people are logging on to them at all times of the day and night - Noa allows users to see just when the peaks and troughs on online usage occur. During the week, online newspaper usage by UK visitors peaks around 1pm, when office workers, and others, are catching up over lunch. On Saturdays, the peak for UK unique visitors is around 5pm, though overall numbers are relatively level through the day, and on Sundays the peak is around 8pm. In June, the weekday average for UK unique visitors was 2.8 million, with 1.8 million on Saturdays and two million on Sundays.

Dwell time

UK unique visitors spent more than 500 million minutes with online national newspapers in June. Millions of online newspaper users spend significant time on the newspaper sites, and the number is growing. As would be expected, many UK unique visitors - 19.7 per cent in June - just dip into a site for a quick update, lasting less than a minute. But in June, just over 50 per cent of unique visitors spent more than four minutes on a site and 27.7 per cent spent more than ten minutes, up from 23.9 per cent and 12.8 per cent respectively in May 2008. Dwell time for UK unique visits with more than one page view averaged nine minutes, 20 seconds, and the total average for UK unique visitors with more than one page view was 24 minutes, 55 seconds.

Popular sections

Online newspaper users connect with a wide range of sections. Noa shows advertisers and planners how many unique visitors are visiting different types of content, increasing opportunities to target specific audiences. Not surprisingly, news and the homepage are the most popular sections, with 36.7 per cent and 31.5 per cent respectively of UK unique visitors in June. But there is also a high level of interest in other types of content, such as culture (31.2 per cent), sport (20.7 per cent) and lifestyle (18.9 per cent). These proportions shift from month to month according to the focus of public interest with, for example, business and finance content attracting more visitors in the recession - 10.9 per cent of UK unique visitors in January at the height of public concern about the recession against 6.2 per cent in June 2008 and 5.6 per cent in June 2009.

Entry point

Most online newspaper users go straight to their favourite content. The homepages of the newspaper sites are, as would be expected, the most common entry point, with 24.2 per cent of UK unique visitors starting their visits there in June. But that leaves more than three quarters of unique visitors going straight to the content that is compelling for them - 20.2 per cent starting with news, 16 per cent with culture, 12.1 per cent with sport and 9.9 per cent with lifestyle. In terms of means of access, mobile devices are now more important, accounting for more than 1.3 million global unique visitors in June. Again, the popularity of different entry points varies with the news agenda, with 5.9 per cent of UK unique users arriving via business and finance in January, falling to 2.9 per cent in June.


Consumers are actively choosing newspaper websites. Search engines, and Google in particular, are important routes for online users to reach newspaper websites. Google was the referring domain for 23.8 million UK unique visitors in June (53.4 million globally). But a very large number of people go directly to the newspaper sites by a link from their favourites list or by tapping in one of the newspaper website urls. In June, direct traffic represented 14.5 million UK unique visitors (33.6 million globally). And the search terms that people use confirm that people are actively seeking the newspaper sites - in June, 86 of the top 100 search terms used by UK unique visitors were specific to the newspapers' titles or to sections such as This Is Money.