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The impact of web traffic on revenues of traditional newspaper publishers

A study for France, Germany, Spain and the UK

The news industry has undergone unprecedented transformation over the last two decades. The Internet has accelerated the pace at which news is created and accessed by readers. At the same time, print circulation has been declining, which has put pressure on publishers to innovate both online and offline.

Google has commissioned this study to measure the impact of web traffic on newspaper publishers’ revenues in France, Germany, Spain, and the UK. This includes the value that total web traffic - traffic driven to news sites directly through a publisher webpage (“direct traffic”) and traffic driven by third party sources which include news aggregators, search engines, social networks and blogs (“referral traffic”) - delivers to newspaper publishers.

Understanding the value of web traffic to news sites


This study measures the value of web traffic to newspaper publishers with both print and online components in France, Germany, Spain, and the UK in 2014.

This has been assessed as the impact of total web traffic on publishers’ revenues, i.e. of traffic driven to news sites both directly through a publisher webpage (“direct traffic”) and traffic driven by third party sources which include news aggregators, search engines, social networks and blogs (“referral traffic”), as well as the impact of referral traffic on publishers’ revenues alone.

To measure the value of web traffic to news sites, this study employs econometric analysis based on a sample of 66 newspaper publishers that have both online and offline editions across in the four countries in scope.

During the period from 2011 to 2013, referral traffic accounted for 66% of page views to these publishers on average, with direct traffic accounting for the remaining 34% of page views.

The analysis estimates that on average, for the newspaper publishers in the sample, the total value of web traffic to news publishers in the four markets was €1,128m in 2014, whilst that from referral traffic was €746m.

The value of a single visit is estimated to range between €0.04 and €0.08, irrespective of whether a visitor accesses a news site directly or through a referral site.
 

Referral traffic to news websites delivered an estimated 4.2% of publishers’ overall revenues and there exist wider impacts of the Internet on newspaper publishers. This contribution is important in the context of the overall declining trend of traditional print revenues.

 

The current share of publishers’ revenues driven by web traffic and the expected growth of internet usage suggest that there may be an opportunity for newspaper publishers to further increase the amount of visits to their websites and the associated revenues.

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