Newspaper Brands Online: The online newspaper user

Readers of online newspapers are young, upmarket and serious internet shoppers. New research reveals the latest on this dynamic audience.

Around half of the UK's adult population use national newspaper websites, and they spend more than half a billion minutes on those sites every month.

This is a massive addition to the already enormous reach of the print newspapers. The newspaper companies have invested heavily in online, and the online newspapers now deliver the powerful print brands to a wider range of readers in exciting and creative ways.

National newspapers(1) reach seven out of ten UK adults every week - in print, online or both. The weekly reach of online national newspapers is more than six million, with 4.7 million also reading print newspapers(2).

Recognition of national newspaper websites is broadly comparable to media brands with strong online awareness, such as the BBC, ITV/Channel 4, MSN and AOL.

It's important for advertisers to know just who these users are and how they behave in the marketplace.

So the Newspaper Marketing Agency commissioned the market research company BMRB to carry out a special analysis of its Internet Monitor, a quarterly survey of 1,000 online users.

It turns out that online newspaper users are younger and more upmarket than the average online user. They are also more online savvy, spending more time online and having a bigger repertoire of websites. And they spend more money online.

Two-thirds of online newspaper users are also frequent readers of print newspapers. They read widely around newspaper websites, often visiting the sites of newspapers that have a different character from their regular print title. For example, 24 per cent of those visiting thesun.co.uk also read "quality" print titles, while 12 per cent of visitors to independent.co.uk read a "popular" newspaper title.

For advertisers, it is an upmarket audience, significantly more likely to be in the AB demographic than the online norm and with an average household income 13 per cent higher, at a little over £40,000 a year.

It is also a younger audience - on-line newspaper users are 11 per cent more likely to be aged 15 to 24 than the online average - and is biased towards men.

And the key quality of trust, such a strong feature of national newspapers, is also evident for online newspapers. Sixty seven per cent of online newspaper users say they trust their online newspaper, making national newspaper websites the ideal environment for making a real connection with consumers online.


All data from BMRB Internet Monitor for four quarterly waves of research in 2008. This is the data that feeds into the March 2009 release of TGInet.

(1) Figures for national newspapers relate to papers that are members of the Newspaper Marketing Agency: Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, Evening Standard, The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, The People, The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times, News of the World, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph.

(2) GNM Total Audience Wave 2 2008 (7256).


In a typical week, an online newspaper user spends more than two hours more online than the online norm and 75 per cent of them go online every day, against 58 per cent for all online users. A quarter of online newspaper users are online for more than two hours every day (18 per cent for all internet users).

More than a third of online newspaper users visit 50-plus sites in a typical month, against 25 per cent for the online population as a whole. At the other end of the scale, 24 per cent of the online user population visit fewer than ten sites, while only 13 per cent of online newspaper users have such a narrow experience.

With a wider repertoire of sites, online newspaper users also have a broader range of ways to use the internet. For them, the internet is much more important for seeking out a wide range of ideas and information than it is for the average online user.

Online newspaper users are more likely than the average to use the internet to look for a home or a job, to plan a holiday or a night out at the cinema or theatre, to listen to or download music, to get TV listings information or check the price of gas or electricity - or the prices of their stocks and shares.

They are more active online - they are more likely to read and take part in online discussions and in social networking.

The online newspaper user is also more likely to access the internet across a range of locations - at home or at work, and using a mobile phone, a games console, a smartphone or a BlackBerry. Given that 43 per cent of online newspaper users access the internet at work (against 34 per cent for all online users), this suggests they are more easily available to advertisers during the day.


For the online newspaper user, buying online is a much more important part of their overall purchasing than is the case for the average online user.

Just as they are more active online, online newspaper users are using the internet to scan for the best prices and the best products. It's an integral part of their shopping - 80 per cent say they often refer to the internet before buying something (against 70 per cent of all online users).

The internet is a valuable resource for checking out what's around and how much they have to pay - they are 21 per cent more likely than average to visit a price comparison site and, in their hunt for bargains, they are 15 per cent more likely to visit an internet auction site.

Once they have checked out what's available, they are 10 per cent more likely than average to visit a website where products and/or services are for sale. They have more experience of shopping online - 74 per cent had made an online purchase in the previous six months, compared with 68 per cent for all online users. And they are more confident that they can safely shop online again: they were 7 per cent more likely than the average to feel secure in using their credit cards online.

With that extra experience and confidence, they do more online shopping - 21 per cent had made ten or more purchases in the previous six months, compared with 15 per cent for the online average.

That translates into a higher level of spending online. Those online newspaper users who do make purchases online had spent an average of £688 online in the previous six months, which was £45, or 7 per cent, more than online users who do not use online newspapers.

Online newspaper users who also regularly read print newspapers spend even more - an average of £693 over the previous six months, suggesting that people who read newspapers in both print and online formats are especially valuable customers.

Across a wide range of e-commerce sites, from online brands such as amazon.co.uk to high street names such as Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Asda, PC World, Sainsbury's and Argos, online national newspaper readers were more likely than the average online user to have visited the site in the previous four weeks.

The range and variety of national newspapers are reflected in their online versions, and users of different types of newspaper website have different shopping patterns. Readers of the "quality" titles are more active in buying books and CDs online, readers of mid-market papers buy more airline tickets and health and beauty products, and readers of "popular" titles spend more on cosmetics and toys and games.