Online Traffic at Newspaper Web Sites Weaken in June

By: Jennifer Saba

Wachovia Equity Research Senior Analyst John Janedis is keeping a close eye on newspaper traffic trends and has noticed that June numbers are cause for concern.

Using comScore data, Janedis and his team wrote in a note that June showed a slow down in both unique users and page views for the companies Wachovia covers.

Analysts acknowledged that Web measurement firms often publish different numbers from each other and from what a Web site tracks internally. “However, regardless of the magnitude, the overall trends appear to indicate slowing growth online,” wrote Janedis.

“A slowdown online could have material impact on top line results.”

Wachovia recently lowered its projections for 2007 online revenue growth from an increase of 25% to an increase of 22%.

The New York Times Co. was singled out for outperforming its peers in terms of traffic. Year-over-year, the company reported that the number of uniques visiting such sites as Boston.com and NYTimes.com grew 12%. The gain though was largely due to About.com, where uniques were up 11.2% year-over-year.

E.W. Scripps broke out of its current slump. Wachovia noted that unique users advanced 13.5% year-over-year after six months of decline. Page views are not so hot, though, dropping 17.3%.

At Gannett, uniques were down 3.8% primarily due to weakness at USA Today, which dropped 12.7%, noted Wachovia.

At Tribune, uniques are up 7.8% year-over-year while page views surged 18.4%.

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