That said, Nielsen Online greatly expanded its panels by eightfold in June of 2009 and yearly comparisons could be affected.
The third quarter of this year provided difficult comparisons against July, August and September of 2008 with the ramp up of a closely watched presidential election and the Olympic games.
Newspaper Web sites attracted 73.3 million unique visitors in July, 74.7 million in August and 74.0 in September. Page views averaged 3.5 billion. The time spent per person during the quarter was 36 minutes and 24 seconds.
The NAA released the figures on the heels of the Audit Bureau of Circulations' report of the latest circ numbers to be announced on Monday. Daily circulation at many newspapers -- especially the metros -- is expected to fall steeply for the six months ending September 2009.
The reasons for the decreases are many -- including publishers hiking up circulation prices to drive up circulation revenue, in a strategy to get core readers to pay more. While volume is dropping, circulation revenue at many companies is on the rise. The New York Times Co. reported this morning, for instance, that circulation revenue in Q3 grew 6.7% and that it represents 42% of total revenue.
John Sturm, president and CEO of the NAA, said in a statement, "Newspaper publishers continue to aggressively reinvent their business models, leveraging trusted brands to attract a growing and sophisticated audience in the digital space.
"At the same time, industry executives have adopted smarter circulation strategies that are growing circulation revenues even though paid circulation numbers are lower. This places the focus where it belongs: retaining core readers who deliver maximum value to advertisers while harnessing digital platforms to broaden our medium's audience."
By: Jennifer Saba During Q3, newspaper Web sites across the country averaged 74 million unique visitors, according to Nielsen Online on behalf of the Newspaper Association of America. The number of users increased about 8% compared to the same quarter of last year.