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News websites suffer dips in reach among Europe's top earners

LONDON - The reach of some of the most popular international news websites among Europe's most affluent consumers and top business decision makers has declined over the past year, according to market research firm Synovate's annual EMS Digital Life survey.

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The EMS regular online survey, which provides a representative sample of the top 13% of all adults based on income across 16 markets, reveals that the reach of FT.com is down from 4.4% to 3.6% in 2009. But the data only measures the reach of the websites themselves, and does not take into consideration apps, RSS feeds and other new channels for generating traffic.

The downward trajectory was also evident among the FT's online rivals, with economist.com down from 2.0% to 1.8% and europe.wsj.com falling from 1.2 to 1%.

One of the few to buck the trend was the CNN.com group of websites, which was up from 4.5% to 5.6%.

Elsewhere, bbc.co.uk including its news offering slipped from 14.5% to 14.1%, while nytimes.com, which did not feature in last year's survey had 2.4%. The nationalgeographic.com magazine website fell from 3.0% to 2.6%.

Joel Degrandsart, senior research executive at Synovate, says: "It's a bit surprising that reach has dipped among the top 13% but the overall trend in both the Select and Regular panels is a positive one.

"New channels to filter traffic through to websites such as RSS feeds and apps have spread reach other a number of different formats and devices, and the data only measures web traffic. So while some websites have suffered a decline in reach overall reach is still growing but in different ways."

Many of these same websites experienced an increase in reach in the EMS Select survey, which incorporates all the same measures as EMS Digital Life but represents the very top 3%.

FT.com's reach among the top 3% is up from 8.2% to 8.5%, while The Wall Street Journal Europe website increased from 2.2% to 2.8%. Economist.com rose from 3.5% to 3.7%.

The New York Times had 3.3%, but The National Geographic magazine website is down from 3.1% to 2.9%. BBC sites held steady at 21.8%, while CNN mirrored its performance in the top 13% with another rise -- up from 7.1% to 9.3%.

All of the major search engines in the survey increased their reach in both groups without exception. google.com share in the top 13% rose from 79.5% to 86.7%, while the all countries edition of MSN went from 21.9% to 25.1%. Yahoo.com climbed from 25.2% to 28.4%.

Among the top 3%, Google broke the 90% barrier -- up from 84.9% to 92.0%, and MSN hit 25.6% from 24.3% a year earlier. Yahoo!'s reach went from 28.5% to 32.8%.

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