By Laura Parr
Around 250,000 Australians visit the Daily Mail every day, according to Mail Online publisher Martin Clarke.
Speaking at this year’s Future Forum, Mr Clarke outlined how the Mail Online successfully branched into the digital market since the launch of its website in 2008.
Although perhaps not on quite the same scale, he said that it was a model all newspapers moving online could look towards in this new and challenging media market.
“The reason I was invited is because we realise no English-speaking market can be treated in isolation… We face the same challenges in the same markets,” Mr Clarke said.
The Daily Mail is currently the second-most shared website in the world (behind The Huffington Post) and is “bigger on the world stage” than BBC News.
Even in the United States, it is the third most popular newspaper website behind USA Today and the New York Times.
While shifting online can be a challenging process for traditional print publications, Mr Clarke encouraged publishers to make use of the feedback opportunities that are offered online.
“I realised that with the digital feedback loop you could get in real time, you could take a lot of the guesswork out of editing.
“In digital, [we can] take a stab at something and within a few minutes, we’ll know if it was the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do. The right things we’ll do more of, the wrong things we’ll stop immediately.”
Mr Clarke spoke about revenue strategies that The Daily Mail is considering, such as presenting clearly labelled advertisements as pieces of content on their homepage. Contrary to the route that many digital publishers are taking, he does not believe that current forms of digital subscriptions are the right way to go.
“Paywalls are extremely problematic. If you have a flat paywall, then you better have content that is utterly exclusive.
“[A metered paywall] seems like a pretty odd strategy to people who are your most loyal customers, charging them, while allowing casual users to read your content for free.”
When it comes to The Daily Mail’s content, surprisingly Mr Clarke said despite popular belief, celebrity TV Showbiz only accounts for 15 per cent of its traffic.
Similarly, he said that while many would believe the search terms ‘Suri Cruise’ or ‘Kim Kardashian’ were responsible for most of The Daily Mail’s traffic, it was the publication’s name in itself that accounted for most homepage hits.
Laura is a third year journalism student at the University of Technology, Sydney.