According to The Guardian, the MailOnline is planning to extend its global reach, opening offices in Toronto, Delhi and Sydney. At present the Daily Mail’s website has 40 journalists based in the UK, 20 in New York who report on US news, and 10 show biz journalists in Los Angeles.
It is hardly surprising that owner Associated Newspapers (the national newspaper division of the Daily Mail and General Trust plc) hopes to develop the MailOnline, given the phenomenal readership growth experienced by the current site since its launch three years ago. It seems that not even the paper’s executives guessed how popular the site would become: in November of last year Martin Morgan, CEO of DMGT told investment analysts that the website was “an early-stage business” that would not be capable of generating a profit until at least 2013. Fast-forward to April 2012, and the company’s forecast was dramatically different. Online editor Martin Clarke announced that the MailOnline was on course to turn a profit from July 2012 onwards, and predicted that within five years revenue will be over £100 million per annum. Even more startling was the news that by February 2012 the Daily Mail website had attracted 47.4 million unique visitors, overtaking The New York Times by nearly 3 million readers to become the world’s most visited newspaper site.
But just why is the MailOnline so successful? Responding to the news that the British-based newspaper was attracting more visitors that the respected American title, a spokeswoman for the NYT insisted rather disdainfully that “a quick review of our site versus the Daily Mail should indicate quite clearly that they are not in our competitive set". Although the MailOnline’s deputy publisher insists that the site’s success can be attributed to "good old fashioned journalism", the quality of the content published there is questionable at best. The homepage is dominated by photographs of cellulite-stricken celebrities and sensational headlines, while articles are often reposted under new headings with minor changes, in a bid to increase hit counts. What is more, the site has been known to recycle and simplifying articles found in other publications, without referencing original sources. It’s therefore unlikely that the website’s millions of visitors are enticed by the digital title’s hard-hitting journalism.
Rather, the MailOnline has proven itself to be adept at search engine optimisation and targets the American market by writing celebrity stories of interest to readers in the US has also shown itself to be a shrewd move: with 36% of online traffic coming from the States, the website’s American audience far outstrips the paper’s print circulation of two million readers.
Although many of the Mail’s print articles are posted to the MailOnline, the website is “essentially a showbusiness-driven US site” and has turned away from the middle-brow conservative readers targeted by its print version. And therein lies the clue to why the MailOnline is today in a position to consider global expansion. Whereas the majority of news sites are an extension of a title’s print product, the digital print and editions of the Daily Mail are run as two separate publications. In freeing itself from a specific, national target audience, the MailOnline has been able to infiltrate overseas audiences and establish an international presence. Whether or not you approve of the MailOnline’s content, it has nonetheless proven to be wildly popular and increasingly profitable, which has a certain appeal, asother online publications struggle to find ways of generating revenue. All of the site’s content is free to access, and Clarke is adamant it will stay that way, declaring: “Many in the newspaper business believed paywalls were the only viable future for the newspaper business – we didn’t think that then and don’t think it now.”