Axel Springer leads European media properties

As reported earlier this month, online analytics giant comScore has agreed to sell up to 1/5th of its equity to Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP. Also hitting the headlines was the news that Strategy Analytics had predicted a digital ad-spend of €100bn for 2015 in Western Europe alone. 

But just where do traditional publishers sit within this emerging digital landscape? I asked comScore to help us figure it out…

Analysing properties at European level is more difficult because it relies on aggregate audiences. The data we have here is based on computer usage alone and does not include mobile. Nonetheless, that gives us a good proxy, especially for those publishers currently syndicating content across multiple territories. Of the Top 25 most visited European properties in January 2015, only three can be thought of as ‘traditional’ publishers, these being Axel Springer, Mode Media, and the IDG Network. Of these three, Axel Springer is leading the charge, racking up 91.5 million visitors to its sites in January – a reach of 16.7 per cent. Mode Media follows in second with 70.7 million, and the IDG network in third with 48.4 million.  

This table makes for some interesting reading. At an initial glance, we find that not one of these three publishers made it into comScore’s list of the Top 10 European internet properties, as ranked by total monthly visitors, with Axel Springer ranking the highest in 11th place. 

However, when you get into the data a little bit more you do discover some positives in the figures. For a start let us not forget that this is a European aggregate, and that many European publishers still focus predominantly on their own markets. So in terms of growth, there is massive potential there for more traditional publishers to increase their European footprint even further by expanding into further markets. And that goes also for Asia, Africa, and other global territories. 

comScore MMX, Europe, January 2015, desktop only* Total unique visitors (000) Percentage reach
Total internet: total audience  423,012 100.0
1. Google sites 383,256 90.6
2. Microsoft sites 275,969 65.2
3. Facebook 255,967 60.5
4. Wikimedia Foundation sites 177,476 42.0
5. Yahoo sites 153,116 36.2
6. Amazon sites 126,787 30.0
7. Group 122,237 28.9
8. eBay 115,185 27.2
9. BitTorrent Network 104,989 24.8
10. Yandex Sites 96,816 22.9
11. Axel Springer 91,448 21.6
12. Mode Media (formerly Glam Media) 70,713 16.7
13. Apple 66,364 15.7
14. AOL 60,126 14.2
15. Dropbox sites 59,602 14.1
16. Twitter 59,438 14.1
17. LinkedIn 56,341 13.3
18. Adobe sites 51,866 12.3
19. WordPress 50,100 11.8
20. IDG Network 48,400 11.4

*Age 15+, home and work computers

Secondly, while Facebook ranks in third with 256 million visitors, it is still nowhere near the size of the Google network sitting atop the tree with 383.3 million. That is important because it emphasises that the sort of ‘social media takeover’ of the web and resultant move towards user generated content that many analysts predicted three years ago has not fully come to pass, and indeed may never fully do so. 

Other social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, seen as behemoths of global communications expansion particularly across territories, still rank behind Axel Springer and Mode. And these are properties that don’t forget have built their entire model upon international connectivity, rather than focussing on a selection of single markets. 

For publishers, the message from the data is clear. Be found through Google search or through Facebook shares and you greatly increase your reach. However, it remains – still – not all about playing this game. European publishers command huge sets of eyeballs across international territories and are right up there in the rankings alongside the biggest social media channels on the market today. As the shine begins to wear off social and users sway increasingly towards dark social, we may well even see further resurgence in the online rankings amongst the publishing industry. 

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