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October 4, 2023updated 08 Mar 2024 11:42am

New analysis suggests ads are hitting site performance on leading UK news sites

Top 50 UK news websites ranked by site performance.

By Dominic Ponsford

Some 18 out of the top 50 UK news websites have room for improvement in their site performance, according to new analysis by website design and development company Baytree.

The Baytree Digital Performance Score (BPS) was created by Baytree’s in-house data and analytics specialists analysing data from billions of real-world Chrome visits, which the company said makes it a realistic benchmark for performance.

The score is tranched into three categories: Less than 80 is a score that requires improvement, 80-90 is considered good and above 90 is described as excellent.

Baytree measures the speed at which sites load, an aspect of performance that is closely connected to increased page views, user retention and SEO positions.

Eight of the 50 publishers were ranked as excellent, led by Digital Spy and the i. Also marked as excellent were LBC, The Guardian, Money Saving Expert, New York Times, Cosmopolitan and NME.

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Baytree said: “Across the data we see a clear pattern in performance between those who have invested in site performance, with some digital-first publishers ranking very highly, along with some mainstream legacy publishers, such as The Guardian and New York Times.

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“There is also a clear trend in ad strategy between the publications that perform well on this index, with many ranking highly relying more on subscriptions, donations and affiliate revenue. Towards the bottom of the table; there is a much higher reliance on invasive advertising which clearly reduces their scores.

“We believe that significant thought has to be invested in this strategy going forward, as rationalisation of ad inventory could lead to significant user experience and SEO improvement, that would then increase pageviews – which could actually improve revenue vs aggressive advertising strategies. We believe this will be a key theme over the next year or two in the industry.

“We’ve seen forward-thinking publishers really start pivoting to aggressively reduce page load time, which has been a refreshing change from previous approaches to load pages with far too many inefficient tracking, analytics and ad embeds.”

Users can see their own score on the publisher performance page on the Baytree website.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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