Overseas visitors outnumber locals on UK media sites

Unique visitors to UK media groups, April 2007. Source: comScore World Metrix

Many major UK media websites draw more than half of their unique visitors from offshore, according to web ratings service comScore, which reports:

…in April 2007 many of the UK’s largest traditional media sites attracted more visitors from overseas than from within the UK. comScore data revealed that online visitors from outside the UK outnumbered the domestic audience in the case of the BBC, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Times, the Independent, the Daily Mail, the Mirror and the Financial Times.

This isn’t too surprising to me, especially when those UK brands are so well-known. When I was at nzherald.co.nz, we also drew well over half our visitors from outside New Zealand. But it’s important to remember that we’re talking about unique visitors — many of whom came to our site via search engines or news aggregators such as the Drudge Report or Slashdot. Such readers tended to look at very few pages. Most page impressions, however, were delivered to local readers — people with a deeper and broader interest in the news we published.

There are a couple of challenges for websites that draw a substantial portion of their traffic from offshore:

  • providing international bandwidth [which in New Zealand was far more expensive than domestic]
  • selling and geo-targeting ads to be seen by offshore readers [unless domestic advertisers are happy to pay for international impressions, and this certainly happens]