The Mail Online has announced its switch from a .co.uk homepage address to a .com domain, in recognition of its increased international readership and to boost its global traffic.
It is reported that negotiations between US paper the Charlestone Daily Mail, occupiers of the dailymail.com address for 18 years, and Daily Mail & General Trust have resulted in the latter paying in excess of £1m to secure the valuable domain name.
It seems that Mail Online has reached a point of saturation amongst its UK audience, and recognises that the one factor preventing a further increase in the already huge portion (70%) of monthly traffic from outside the UK, has been the .co.uk domain.
It is thought that DMGT missed their revenue target of £45m last year, but having set themselves a target of achieving £60m-worth of revenue in 2014, they clearly recognise the growing importance of international markets to Mail Online, especially growth in the US, if ad sales and resulting revenue are to increase.
There wasn’t a huge reaction in the UK – I can’t say I noticed – when theguardian.co.uk made the switch to .com mid-way through last year, but having seen their left-wing cousins reap the financial benefits of the lucrative US market, Mail Online has seized its opportunity to add to its 161 million monthly unique users and boost its global PR appeal in the process.
Rarely has a news outlet been able to spark public debate by doing its job properly. It baffles me how well Mail Online appeases our appetite for easy reading, yet people feel the need to pick holes in every story in the comments beneath, and accuse them of lazy journalism. I certainly look forward to hearing the reaction of Mail Online regulars to this particular story in the coming weeks, not that any criticism is justifiable.
Is the Mail Online’s infamous layout and home page one of the reasons for British readership waning slightly over the last year? Even if we are losing interest in the website in this country, Mail Online has already been extremely successful in the US by segmenting the placement of stories relevant to that particular audience, and this looks only set to continue.
I should think that, as was the case with the Guardian, the switch will have a temporarily negative impact on traffic to Mail Online, but not for long. After the initial short-lived backlash from the UK-centrists, normal service will be resumed and the site will flourish once more.
The real question is whether the Mail Online’s political focus will change, in parallel with the new domain. Will the MO continue to be politically UK-focused and celebrity-focused internationally? I shouldn’t think much will change, and looking too much into it defeats the purpose of the switch in the first place. Simply, global traffic to the site will increase, it’s just how the internet works.
Despite the 70 per cent of website traffic coming from overseas already, Mail Online will have to be wary of ensuring that their content caters to an increasingly diverse international audience. Maintaining a balance between news for traditional readers and celebrity updates for more casual visitors will continue to be necessary, but at the same time the .com domain may even give the MO scope to, as the site continues to grow, incorporate auto-generated home pages based on the user’s location.
Most importantly however, wherever it goes, the Mail Online will always be there for us at lunchtime.