State by state – digital mastheads and their traffic origins. Pt. 2


Earlier today I posted this article – https://talkingdigital.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/a-sydneysider-dressed-as-a-brisbaneite-a-tale-of-audience-deception/ – which has been generating a lot of reads and a lot of comments and emails to me.

I wanted to clear a few things and throw in some more numbers.

First thing – I am aware that websites generally have traffic that originates either from overseas or interstate. I get it. I check my logs on this blog and I have about 20% of my traffic from overseas. My point is more around the lack of volume in the home territory/state for some of the examples, and why the numbers appear as they do.

The second point is this – I can understand a site like The Age or the SMH or even the Herald Sun having big traffic from overseas and interstate. They are renowned titles – they cover news/sport better than any other title in the land. However I am less inclined to believe sites like Brisbanetimes, WA Today, Adelaide Now etc are associated with great journalism or best in breed content. So the question has to be ‘how are these interstate users getting to these sites.’

My third issue is when these state based sites are sold to state based advertisers who probably don’t have access to this sort of information and believe topline numbers – NATIONAL numbers. It’s misleading and another one of the digital media worlds secrets it needs to rid itself of. I know for a fact the reps of the WA/SA/VIC based mastheads sell to local advertisers using topline national numbers.

I grabbed these from the media centres of the various titles

WAtoday.com.au is a new media voice for Western Australia

Brisbanetimes.com.au continues to deliver a new perspective on News, Entertainment, and Sport for Queensland

AdelaideNow is a portal to everything Adelaide – from the latest breaking news and photos to sport, entertainment, gossip and social pics.

PerthNow provides West Australians with up-to-the-minute local, national and international news

(The Courier Mail) – The website of Queensland’s highest selling daily newspaper, with users covering all demographics in sufficient numbers to be a true mass medium

Now I get the spin but why not be honest with the origins of your traffic.

A few people asked the question for the sites that had around 50% or less of their AU traffic originating from their home state, where the traffic came from. I’ve covered this info below

WA Today – Fairfax
NSW – 30%
QLD – 9%
SA – 4%
VIC – 23%

Adelaide Now – News
NSW – 23%
QLD – 10%
VIC – 18%
WA – 6%

Perth Now – News
NSW – 21%
QLD – 9%
SA – 5%
VIC – 17%

Brisbane Times – Fairfax
NSW – 36%
SA – 4%
VIC – 22%
WA – 6%

The Courier Mail – News
NSW – 30%
SA – 4%
VIC – 17%
WA – 6%

So … what do we see here?

– For both Brisbane Times and WA Today, over 50% of each of their AU users are from NSW and VIC. These are both Fairfax properties. Fairfax’s top 2 media properties online are the SMH and The Age.
– For the NDM properties, Perth Now has the lowest % of VIC/NSW users at 38%, The Courier Mail 48% and Adelaide Now 41%

As an onlooker, it seems weird that these local titles were developed to service the local needs of their respective communities, but such a large % of their users are from interstate. And from states with already good quality digital mastheads. Why would so many Sydney people need to visit WA Today? And why would so many Melbourne people need to visit the Brisbane Times? What am I missing?

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16 responses to “State by state – digital mastheads and their traffic origins. Pt. 2

  1. A lot of people living and working in Melbourne & Sydney are originally from other states. Without the option of picking up a local paper, perhaps this is how they stay connected to their states of origin.

    And a lesson for digital advertisers that should have been learned at least 10 years ago: unless your campaign is truly global or a sponsorship, always ask your publishers for geo-targeting.

  2. talkingdigital

    hi jamie – agree some people working in mel and syd are from other states … but should they account for almost 50% of the traffic?

  3. Just wanted to point out, TheWest.com.au total traffic figures are so low because their figures are now reported through Yahoo!7 News because of a content sharing deal. WA users will no longer receive Y!7 News but instead be shown TheWest.com.au, powered by Yahoo!7

    As for the high NSW/VIC count for Couriermail/BrisbaneTimes, one possible reason could be business users, perhaps? I certainly know our company internet goes through Sydney so working in QLD I have an incredibly difficult time seeing my own campaigns when they are geo-targeted.

    That said, business use can’t be the only source of interstate traffic. Fairfax is particularly god at tunneling their traffic around from masthead to masthead.

  4. Hi Ben

    re your 2nd point: I really think the answer is most likely to do with where they get their content from, and therefore who finds it through search. Looking at AdelaideNow, most of their top stories are national/international level rather than state-oriented, most are from either AAP or other News sites rather than the Advertiser (this is no doubt the same for the paper as well).

    People are just finding the content through natural search, since if you’re interested in the latest T-20 squad announcement you probably don’t care if it’s your hometown paper or Brisbane/Melbourne/Perth’s.

    You could argue that they should re-evaluate their publishing strategy – why not foreground genuine state-relevant news, rather than replicate the same content as every other news portal? I think their response would lie in the big traffic they get through syndicated content, most of it from interstate, allowing them to target national advertisers. Gap in the market????

    I agree that selling national figures to state-based advertisers is the main issue here, and yes, some transparency from publishers would be nice. If a decent media buyer were buying for a state-based client, I think the first thing they’d ask is geo-tagging and state-based traffic figures, but for smaller advertisers who can’t afford a media agency this is clearly an issue.

    [re your first point: of course I’m sure you get this, didn’t mean to imply otherwise!]

  5. talkingdigital

    hey jonathon – i think the numbers are interesting in so much they start discussion around how the sites are getting traffic. some of these brands are sold as ‘destinations’ … ie there’s value in the strength of the brand. if search is the primary driver, they’re really more about fulfillment so what value does the brand have? many of these brands sell of the strangth of their brand and its position compared to its competitors … this changes that somewhat.

    maybe now with news the masthead brand doesn’t mean anything and the game is SEO and fast paced, topical and potentially passable content. which is fine, but the masthead brands may have to adapt their go to market approach to not talk about ‘being the news’ and start talking about being 1 part of the news chain. In that case you’d have to start wondering whether someone who visits capitalcitytoday.com.au via search is as valuable as a regular Sydney Morning Herald print reader or regular viewer of the 7 News at 6pm?

  6. totally agree.

    but i do think, speaking from a publisher perspective, that defining your market proposition for advertisers is actually a lot easier said than done.

    in reality there are very few content publishers who could honestly answer the question of how valuable their online brand (and therefore its audience) is … hence the debate over paywalls. some think it’ll save the industry, some think it’ll be dead in the water, because no-one really knows who is using their site, how they got there, why they got there, and what they get out of it! given that, it’s no surprise that publishers are piecing together ad hoc sales arguments depending on which meeting they’re going to …

  7. I go to the Brisbane Times for John Birmingham’s column myself

  8. Great post Ben. The skew is traffic is could also due to the way that Fairfax set up their sites.
    I have noticed that they interlink from a number of different mastheads. I have been on Business Day from SMH, and quite often found myself on The Age or another one of their state based sites. This linking strategy has been set up to maximise the traffi moving through the different sites, and therefore increasing UBs for each site.

  9. check out the content itself, local orientation and the home of your 15 seconds of fame for many parents where the article did or did not make print in the local paper makes the picture and article available to send the local event news to friends and family.
    I checked on my emails from my parents and on a qucik list of the last 6 months had over 40 links in emails to these papers and who and what is happening at home. Similalrly on facebook there are multiple links to various articles form friends that are in local districts, many of which are now living interstate.

  10. Interesting post Ben. Being an AFL follower in Sydney I often go (directly) to the Herald Sun site, so traffic such as that is certainly valid.

    I don’t think anyone is challenging the veracity of the data, but whether the way the data is being utilised when it is presented in a sales environment. There is a lot of ‘caveat emptor’ here.

    Becky’s comment reinforces the theory that re-direction could be an issue … let’s call is “sharing the love around”. Becky please tell me you were referring to daily UBs and not monthly UBs as well, because I have noticed that the monthly UBs is now up to 71m – more than triple our population!

  11. Actually I’ve just had a look around Business Day and SMH and the interlinking has been cleaned up now. It looks as if I am channelled into the correct state masthead.

  12. So disregard my original comment – I don’t think this is intentional channelling of traffic.

  13. Since Tom mentioned me, I feel I should contribute. I write 3 blogs a week for Brissytimes and feed traffic to them from my personal blogs, twitter feed, facebook page etc. The bogs recently went national. Plus all of those feed in sources would deliver a big whack of interstate and overseas traffic. Not much I can do about that. I have a lot readers for my books outside qld.
    You shouldnt discount the expat effect either, of people keeping in contact with hometown news. It’s why I visit the SMH web site a few times a day, even though I haven’t lived in Sydney for years.

  14. JB, indeed you are an example of perfectly valid traffic – both as a user and a generator.

    But I think what Ben’s post is saying … given the data, are folks like you REALLY the majority?

  15. Ah, well that, I couldn’t tell you. I dont even understand my own stats, let alone BT’s.

  16. And JB … I think that’s one of the big issues.

    There are all these online stats and so little understanding and insight. One could even posit that some of the stats are there for obfuscation rather than illumination!

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