Buoyed by dramatic events in Japan and the Middle East, newspaper Web sites reached approximately two-thirds of all Internet users in the first quarter, according to the latest comScore figures released by the Newspaper Association of America.
Overall, newspaper Web sites attracted an average of 108.3 million unique visitors per month, equal to 63.9% of all adult Internet users in the U.S.
This audience is highly engaged, generating an average 4.3 billion page views per month, or an average 39.7 page views per unique visitor. Visitors to newspaper Web sites spent an average 3.7 billion minutes per month on the sites. That works out to 34.2 minutes per visitor per month and an average 51.7 seconds spent on each page view.
With headlines dominated by the Japanese tsunami and nuclear disaster, followed by military intervention in Libya, the actual monthly figure for unique visitors in March climbed to 113 million, or 66.7% of the total U.S. Internet population. Page views in March rose to 4.5 billion.
The comScore figures also indicate that newspaper Web sites reach desirable demos, including 60.4% of adults ages 25-34 and 74.4% of adults in households earning over $100,000 a year.
These strong audience figures hold out hope that newspaper Web sites will enjoy equally strong growth in ad revenue in 2011 and years to come. Until recently, the wide reach and engagement of newspaper Web sites hasn't translated into substantial online ad revenues -- but that may finally be changing.
In 2010, total online ad revenues for newspapers came to just over $3 billion, or about 12% of total ad revenues of $25.8 billion, per the NAA. Since 2005, total print ad revenues have fallen 52% from $47.4 billion to $22.8 billion.