UK News & Media Report 2019:…

UK News & Media Report 2019: Proving the Value of Your Audience


The online News & Media industry is growing, with total visits to the top 100 sites rising by +14% YoY. But the time Britons spend on these sites has decreased.

In July to September, 64% of the online population visited National Titles, like The BBC News and Daily Mail. Britons were checking these sites more often but spending less time with each visit. Regional Titles, including Manchester Evening News and Liverpool Echo, also attracted larger audience bases, but average visits and time have both decreased.

This macro-level data shows that Britons are time-poor but keeping up with the latest news. How can publishers then grow their online audiences and advertiser sales when engagement is more difficult? 

News Categories
July-September 2019 YoY



Audience Reach Total

32.6M (64% online pop)
-3% YoY

20.1M (39% online pop)
+9% YoY

Average Visits Per Title

4.3 visits / month
+13% YoY

3.7 visits / month
-5% YoY

Average Time Per Title

4m 35s / visit
-4% YoY

4m 2s / visit
-6% YoY

What’s Inside


Audience Insights: What do Britons care about, and which publishers are capitalising?


Audience Tactics: How can publishers prove their audience value, and grow commercial sales?


Audience Insights: What do Britons care about, and which publishers are capitalising?

What do Britons care about now?

Search behaviours can help gauge the popularity of trending new topics. In July to September, the developments of Brexit and the Rugby World Cup have dominated headlines, with over 1.4M people searching for these keywords. Entering the final stages for both the World Cup and Brexit, the number of people seeking the latest updates have risen by +50% compared to last year.

Aside from key events, search also shows what’s increasingly top of mind. Over 500K searched for “veganism” and the “royal family”, which remained steady YoY. Although smaller in audience size, searches around sustainability, such as “climate change”, “ethical retail”, and awareness around “self care” have grown by over +50% YoY.

What do Britons Care About?
Audience Size (‘000) by Search Keywords

Source: Hitwise, UK. Audience size by portfolio of above listed search terms. July-September 2019 YoY.

What do these audiences look like?

The audiences behind each topic largely differed

Higher household incomes, both young and old, from Southern regions were more likely to search for “Brexit” and the “royal family”. Residents from London were most likely to be concerned about sustainability, climate change and ethical retail. Londoners and South West residents were also 15% more likely to search for “self care”, predominantly from Gen Z and Millennials audiences. 

Audience – Index by Key Theme

Source: Hitwise, UK. Themes = defined by audience that search for related terms like “Brexit” and “Royals”. Index = compared to online population, percentage shows more or less likely to exhibit behaviours. July-Sep 2019. 

Which publication attracts these audiences?

Depending on these topics, publications have varying degrees of audience reach.

The Daily Mail drew the largest share of people interested in the royal family. The Independent and The Guardian drew higher shares of audiences searching for climate change, veganism and ethical retail. The BBC News and the Telegraph were the go-to’s for audiences looking for Brexit, Rugby and NFL updates.

Data around search trends and publication shares can then feed into a publisher’s content strategy. For example, the BBC News may want to grow their readership among Gen Z-ers. In the previous chart, affluent Gen Z-ers were most likely to search for veganism and ethical retail. The BBC News could then feature articles with trending keywords or create video content around these topics.

Publications – Index by Key Theme

Source: Hitwise, UK. Themes = defined by audience that search for related terms like “Brexit” and “Royals”. Index = compared to online population, percentage shows more or less likely to visit each publication. July-Sep 2019. 


Search data is an incredibly powerful source of information. Publishers can gauge the popularity of trending news topics and identify growing interests and concerns of different audiences.

Through search, publishers can also benchmark their audience reach and share. Depending on these results, they can decide whether or not to feature specific types of content to grow their readership.


Audience Tactics: How can publishers prove their audience value, and grow commercial sales?

Benchmark the value of your audience

When pitching for new advertisers, News & Media outlets have to prove that their audience is bigger or better than others. To do so, they need to understand their competitors’ audiences as well as their own. 

But what happens when your title isn’t bigger?

Time Out vs. Evening Standard
Online Audience Comparison



Unique Users

Online Visits


3m 19s


Unique Users

Online Visits


3m 33s

Time Out draws a smaller online audience and lower engagement than The Evening Standard. How can Time Out build a case to show that their audience is better?

Source: Hitwise, UK. Visits to Timeout and Evening Standard. July to September 2019.

Time Out draws 3X fewer unique users to their site than a competitor, Evening Standard. In July to September, Time Out also has slight lower online engagement. Their readers visited 1.3 times a month, compared to 1.4 times for the Evening Standard, and spent less time by 14 seconds per visit. 

Demonstrate your audience’s purchase behaviours

One way to assess the quality of your audience is by pinpointing their high-value touchpoints, such as online purchases.

49% of Time Out’s audience made a purchase on Amazon in July to September, compared to 30% for the Evening Standard’s audience. They’re also 2X more likely to buy on John Lewis over this same time period.

These high-value touchpoints also extend to other industries, such as travel and finance. For example, 10% of Time Out’s audience made a booking on, which was 2X greater than Evening Standard’s audience. 

Time Out vs. Evening Standard
Share of Online Buyers / Bookers Comparison

Source: Hitwise, UK. Share of Visitors to Time Out or Evening Standard that also purchased on the above listed sites. July to September 2019.


When sourcing new advertisers, use volume and engagement metrics to benchmark your audience against the competition. Assess high value touch points, such as online purchases and bookings, in order to prove the quality of your audience.

Win advertisers over peak trading periods

News & Media sites are a key source of information for product inspiration and reviews.

But the reliance on News & Media sites differs depending on retail category. Last year, clicks from Print Media sites to Beauty sites spiked the week before Black Friday, whereas clicks to Electronics sites spiked the week of Black Friday. Print media sites played a larger role for House & Garden in the week of Christmas, whereas Fashion saw a slight peak over October.

So, how can publishers measure their role and impact on the consumer’s path to purchase?

Clicks from Print Media Sites to Retail Categories
Weekly Trend

Source: Hitwise, UK. Weekly share of clicks from Print Media sub-industry to specified retail categories. October to December 2018.

Track your publication’s share of high value audiences

Let’s say The Guardian is looking to gain advertisers ahead of this year’s retail peak period. The publisher has highlighted premium online furniture brand,, as a key opportunity. In the previous chart, we saw that clicks from Print Media to House & Garden sites rose over Black Friday week and eventually spiked over Christmas week.

During this six-week period from Black Friday to Christmas, had 477K unique users visit their site. Only 4% of visitors transacted on’s site. Like the previous chapter, The Guardian can demonstrate that they attracted a larger share of Buyers than competitor titles. 47% of buyers visited The Guardian’s site, compared to 39% for The Independent in this six-week period. Audience
Overlap with The Guardian & The Independent

The Guardian attracts a higher share of Visitors. More importantly, the pub draws a higher share of Buyers.

Source: Hitwise, UK. Audience = visited/purchased on Overlap shown with The Guardian and The Independent. 6 weeks to 29 December 2018.

Measure your impact on the consumer’s path to purchase

Through clickstream data, The Guardian can also quantify how Buyers used their site over peak period.

Clicks from Print Media to House & Garden spiked over Christmas Week. But Buyers were more likely to click from The Guardian to Retail sites over Cyber Monday week and the week before Christmas. If the publisher and brand were to collaborate, The Guardian could then advise to prioritise display ads and/or product content during these weeks, rather than the industry’s spike over Christmas week.

With these two data sources, The Guardian has a clear proposition to take The publisher drew a higher share of the brand’s most valuable audience, their buyers. They can also demonstrate where and when they’ve impacted this audience’s retail journey. Buyers
Clicks from The Guardian/The Independent to the Retail Industry

Source: Hitwise, UK. Buyers = purchased on Weekly traffic occurrences from listed publications to the retail industry. 7 weeks to 29 December 2018.


The million-dollar question is how to prove your publication’s role and influence over an audience’s purchase decisions. Metrics, such as the share of buyers viewing content on your site and the share of clicks to other retail sites, can help inform this answer. This is a key opportunity to gain advertisers over peak trading periods.

Measure campaign lift – Case Study with ITV’s Love Island

Another crucial aspect to growing commercial sales is the ability to measure campaign performance. Publishers need to demonstrate that by partnering with them, the brand has experienced a quantifiable uplift in market share, customers and/or sales.

This is why ITV has partnered with Hitwise for the past two years. Hitwise data feeds into three key strategic areas for ITV:

1. Planning – through online behavioural analysis, understanding when customers are in-market for certain categories
2. Implementation – through this analysis, making recommendations to brands on when, where and how brands should advertise
3. Evaluation – through competitive analysis, assessing the impact on the brand’s volume and market share

Understand volume AND share pre, during and post campaign 

According to Glenn Gowen, Head of Audiences at ITV, “Hitwise data allows us to analyse online impacts as campaigns are on air and make recommendations accordingly. We can prove volume and share uplifts for the key sponsors of one of our key titles, Love Island.”

Through this data, ITV were able to demonstrate that Jet2 saw a +23% uplift in online market share since sponsoring Love Island. The publisher was also able to show that the clicks from ITV’s site to Superdrug immediately spiked over the show’s airtime.

Love Island – Campaign Impact on Sponsors
Jet2 Share of Voice and Superdrug share of Clicks

Source: Hitwise, UK. Weekly share of clicks from Print Media sub-industry to specified retail categories. October toDecember 2018.

Want more info on how ITV measures campaign lift?

Check out ITV’s video case study, where we interview Glenn Gowen on the industry’s opportunities and why Hitwise was chosen as a preferred data partner.


Final Takeaways

Online data sources can help publishers build a compelling proposition about their audience. Different analytics can support each stage of the commercial sales cycle, including:

1. Win new advertisers: As shown in the Time Out example, a publisher can’t always win based on volume and size. High value behaviours, such as online purchases, can help prove the quality of their audience.

2. Refine campaigns over peak periods: Through clickstream data, publications can also quantify when and how their content has influenced the consumer’s path to purchase. For The Guardian and, the publisher can highlight the peak weeks for the brand’s most valuable segment, Buyers.

3. Measure uplift: It’s equally important to demonstrate uplifts in share, volume and/or sales as a result of a campaign. This is why and how leading channel, ITV, has partnered with Hitwise for the past two years.

Hitwise + News & Media

Hitwise partners with leading news & media outlets across commercial sales, analytics, insights and editorial functions. We support clients to benchmark their competitive share, track the latest news and topics through search analytics, and grow commercial sales through audience-level data.

For more information on our capabilities tailored to this industry, check out our News & Media Solutions Page.

Interested in more insights on the News & Media industry?

Hitwise will help uncover digital insights into your strategic audience segments. 

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