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Mail Online crosses the Atlantic

Mail Online crosses the Atlantic

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.

The site recently announced a switch from a .co.uk to .com domain.

The site recently announced a switch from a .co.uk to .com domain.

It is thought that DMGT missed their revenue target of £45m last year, but have 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 homepage 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 percent 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.

Dear Mr Rodgers…

Hot on the heels of an open letter printed in the Daily Telegraph last week by football writer Henry Winter, urging Arsenal’s owner Stan Kroenke to enforce change at the club, I read another open letter written by the Daily Mail’s Rik Sharma.

Entitled ‘An open letter to Fernando Torres’, Sharma’s missive outlines why, as a lifelong Chelsea supporter, he is urging the misfiring striker to leave the club in the summer and return to Spain. Sharma explores in considerable detail Torres’ time at the club, from the initial excitement of his arrival in the January transfer window of 2011, to the early doubts about whether the £50 million man was worth the fee, through to the growing resentment amongst Chelsea supporters towards his attitude and general demeanour and finally, the nadir of Torres being booed off the pitch on his 100th appearance last month.

Chelsea fan or not, the article is interesting reading, if nothing else for the way it catalogues the sorry decline of a player once feared as the best in his trade (as a Liverpool supporter, I still hold some cherished memories).

But reading Sharma’s impassioned appeal, so soon after Henry Winter’s very public call to arms to ‘Silent Stan’ Kroenke, made me question whether we are seeing the emergence of a new fashion in football journalism. That is, emotively infused appeals from the journalist as ‘football fan’ as opposed to observer and reporter.

Of course, the wider concept of the open letter is nothing new and indeed, self-penned appeals seem to be de rigueur amongst Premiership club owners at the moment, most notably with Liverpool FC’s John W Henry’s and his letter to supporters in September 2012 apologizing for the club’s transfer policy.

It is clear however that the concept of the open letter in the back pages is an increasingly popular journalistic vehicle through which to frame opinions, and generate debate online. Perhaps the emergence of the trend is no surprise considering the rise of the football fan as commentator and opinion-shaper himself, through blogs and football forums.  It will be interesting to see how many other open letters will appear between now and the end of the season, especially as we head into the ‘business end’ of the year with passions often at their highest and gripes at their worst.

My own open letter? Why oh why can’t Liverpool string a few wins together, Brendan Rodgers, just for once!

 

Words by Ciaran McCale