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Average monthly unique audience figures for newspaper websites grew by more than 3.6 million in 2007, a record year for the industry and an increase of more than 6% over 2006 numbers, according to the Newspaper Association of America (NAA).

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Monthly unique visitors to newspaper websites averaged 62.8 million in last year’s fourth quarter, a record number in itself and the largest in any quarter since NAA began tracking online usage in January 2004.

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According to the data, which is part of a new report by Nielsen Online for NAA that takes into account home and work internet usage, unique visitors in the fourth quarter represented a 9% increase over the same period a year ago (57.6 million).

Among the findings of the report:

  • Heading into the holiday season, newspaper websites experienced a record in October 2007. More than 63.2 million people visited newspaper websites that month, more than any month on record – and an 8% increase from the same period a year ago.
  • For the year’s fourth quarter, 39% of all active Web users visited newspaper websites, with visits averaging 44 minutes a month.
  • In the fourth quarter, users generated more than three billion page impressions on average, a 7.3% increase over the same period a year ago.

See below for chart of similar data, by month, for all of 2007; data for previous periods is available from NAA’s website.

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“Newspapers continue to successfully transform themselves into multimedia companies, offering unparalleled content that reaches an audience growing in both size and sophistication,” said NAA President and CEO John F. Sturm.

“Newspapers’ expanding print and digital portfolio offers value to advertisers by providing a targeted, comprehensive menu of choices for today’s discriminating consumer. As our industry’s transition accelerates, it is clear consumers recognize newspapers as their trusted source of information in an increasingly digital environment.”

About the data: The Nielsen Online newspaper total represents a de-duplicated visitor total taken from its combined home and work panel of internet users (e.g., an individual who might read a national newspaper plus a local newspaper online is counted only once). The target sample (2 years or older) has access from a non-shared PC at work and/or access from home. The Nielsen Online monthly newspaper total represents the de-duplicated reach of a custom list of hundreds of sites collectively.

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