UK’s Mail Online: A Digital Juggernaut Stateside, Too


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Mail Online’s publisher, Martin Clarke.

One Direction—and The New York Times, for that matter—take heed. The latest British phenom has arrived from across the pond and is enthralling American audiences by the millions. Mail Online, the online sister of UK newspaper the Daily Mail, has rapidly evolved into an all-out digital juggernaut.

Mail Online is currently the single most popular online newspaper in the world, boasting more than 50 million unique visitors every month. Its tone—sensational and acerbic—is distinctly British, though its focus, particularly with regard to celebrity news, fashion, lifestyle and human interest coverage, is decidedly American. The site also comprises highly popular world and political news pages.

And stateside, audiences are devouring the roughly 1,000 new stories posted daily by a team of more than 150 journalists in London, New York and Los Angeles—in addition to a boatload of accompanying photo and video content.

Mail Online’s edit includes—but is not exclusive to—that of the printed Daily Mail, which was first published in 1896 and is now owned by the British media conglomerate, The Daily Mail and General Trust.

While its print counterpart touts a minimal presence in the U.S., Mail Online’s readership here has already toppled that of local competitors like,, Gawker and E! Online. Additionally, its female audience is larger than those of the respective websites for every major women’s fashion, beauty and lifestyle title.

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Global chief marketing officer, Sean O’Neal.

If the site seems to have arrived and conquered overnight, that’s precisely because it has, noted Sean O’Neal, Mail Online’s global CMO, during an exclusive interview at the company’s Soho offices. Explosive growth of 5% compounded monthly means that audiences spend the equivalent of 608 years at the site each month and leave 36,000 comments every day.

And the ramifications of these numbers for the beauty industry are huge. The site itself offers a wealth of beauty editorial that comprises product reviews, celebrity trendspotting, runway and red carpet coverage, shopping tips and more.

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Chief revenue officer, Rich Sutton.

Mail Online readers over-index for “beauty product purchasing,” O’Neal said, and 8.4 million of its visitors have purchased cosmetics, fragrances, hair care and skin care items in the last six months.

To further connect with its vast, affluent, highly engaged and product-hungry readership, Mail Online’s advertising program traverses desktop, mobile, social and video content. The company also integrates e-commerce into its beauty- and fashion-related stories, and hotspotting enables marketers to link purchasing opportunities to celebrity images and videos.

Beauty advertisers already include L’Oréal, P&G, Burberry and more.

While most publications today are pursuing digital mediums, O’Neal noted that Mail Online’s particular strength—and an as-yet-untapped segment in the market—is the impact of mobile distribution. The average desktop user spends about 11minutes on the site, whereas smartphone users spend 13 minutes and iPad users spend a whopping 15 minutes.

Mail Online is helmed by publisher Martin Clarke, who joined the Daily Mail in 1987 and has held numerous editorial positions at the company’s Scottish and Irish divisions over the years. In this month’s British GQ, Clarke was named the 11th most influential man in Britain, and the single most influential digital personality in all of Britain.

Other key players on the site’s U.S. executive team include Rich Sutton, who serves as chief revenue officer and oversees North American sales, and O’Neal, who heads global marketing.

Mail Online showcases all that is best about British popular journalism,” Clarke stated. “It is produced using traditional journalistic values and skills that are as old as Fleet Street itself and illustrates not just how its legacy can survive but how it can evolve and prosper as a global powerhouse in the digital age.”


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