HuffPo beating NYT online in U.S., but what about globally? And what about the Daily Mail?

Joe Pompeo

There's a lot of talk today about how the Huffington Post has, according to metrics from the web analytics firm comScore, cruised past the New York Times in monthly U.S. online visitors, partly thanks to increased referral traffic from AOL, which acquired HuffPo earlier this year.

But what about the U.K.'s Daily Mail? A few weeks ago, the British tabloid's parent company was bragging about how it was on track to overtake the Times (Mail Online had already surpassed HuffPo for the months of March and April) to become the world's most widely read news site. That metric comes from comScore's "newspapers" category, which includes the online-only HuffPo, but not bigger Internet juggernauts like CNN Digital and the website you are presently reading.

The short answer is that comScore's global stats for the month of May won't be available until next week. But while Mail Online's U.S. traffic still lags well behind its two top competitors, it had a strong month in the states nonetheless.

Mail Online finished May with 19.8 million U.S. unique visitors to the Times' 33.6 million and HuffPo's 35.6 million, according to comScore. That's an improvement of roughly 3.6 million visitors over its April U.S. total of 16.1 million. The global totals for April were as follows: 46.4 million for the Times; 38.7 million for Mail Online; and 35.9 million for HuffPo.

So it's possible that when the final stats for May come in, the New York Times will still finish ahead of HuffPo, which doesn't have as big an international audience. (The Timesian advantage here may diminish over time though, since HuffPo is expanding abroad with spinoffs in Canada and the U.K.) And it's likewise possible that Mail Online could end up beating both of them, as its owners have predicted--a gain that would largely stem from the Times' decision in March to begin charging for unlimited access to its digital properties.

Bear with us: Per comScore, Mail Online's non-U.S. uniques for April were 22,603,000. The Times' were 13,524,000; HuffPo's were 5,985,000. Assume for argument's sake that each site's non-U.S. traffic remained entirely flat for May. Add each site's May U.S. traffic to the previous month's non-U.S. figures and it would put the Times' total May uniques at at 47,114,000, Mail Online's at 42,397,000  and HuffPo's at 41,630,00. The Times would be ahead, but not by such a wide margin that it couldn't still be anyone's game. So we'll have to wait and see!

As for HuffPo's widely trumpeted U.S. victory over the Times, Poynter's Julie Moos adds some smart context about the value of web traffic. The Times has considerably more regular visitors than HuffPo, a majority of whose traffic comes from "passers-by. ... The loyalty differences have important business implications, especially to The New York Times, which has an additional measure--and benefit--of loyalty: paid digital subscribers," Moos writes. "For another day: This 'competition' between HuffPo and the NYT is a false one."