An interesting look at South African website traffic during the lockdown

Narratiive released its September 2020 statistics, which showed that News24, IOL, and BusinessTech are the largest news publications in South Africa.

Narratiive is the official traffic measurement partner of the IAB South Africa and provides accurate traffic and demographics statistics for South Africa’s top online publishers.

Last month, News24 attracted a readership of 11.4 million unique browsers, followed by IOL with 6.2 million, and BusinessTech with 5.7 million.

The top 10 is completed by TimesLive, Gumtree, EWN, The South African, Citizen, Daily Maverick, and Vodacom.

It should be noted that only websites which are part of the IAB South Africa and run Narratiive code are included in this comparison.

This means that other large websites like the banks, Takealot, and Bidorbuy are not listed.

The table below lists the readership figures for South Africa’s largest online publications, based on the September 2020 Narratiive report.

Top Online Publications in South Africa
Website Unique Browsers Page Views
news24.com 11,427,703 82,954,772
iol.co.za 6,227,819 28,469,802
BusinessTech.co.za 5,687,989 19,986,654
timeslive.co.za 5,615,460 24,247,572
gumtree.co.za 4,398,972 84,963,218
ewn.co.za 3,651,642 16,162,663
thesouthafrican.com 3,527,961 10,223,660
citizen.co.za 3,318,612 11,668,842
dailymaverick.co.za 2,828,899 11,400,534
vodacom.co.za 2,708,161 14,457,904

How the lockdown affected traffic

South African online news publications were on the forefront of covering the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

This clearly showed in the readership figures as South Africans flocked to online publications for the latest developments.

There was a big spike in traffic for most publications during the lockdown, which peaked in June and remains at very high levels.

The monthly readership figures for South Africa’s top business publications provide a good overview of this trend.

BusinessTech more than doubled its usual readership during the lockdown, while Business Insider, Business Live, and Moneyweb showed equally strong performances.

The chart below shows how the readership of the country’s top online business publications

The Most Interesting Thing Happening In Competition Policy

The U.S. Department of Justice is set to announce its long-awaiting antitrust case against Google, and the House Antitrust Subcommittee is poised to reveal its proposals to break up some tech companies.  But new reports from the Shorenstein Center and the Center on Equitable Outcomes point to a much more promising approach to reining in the power of big tech companies and creating genuine consumer alternatives. A supervisory agency tasked with using regulatory tools like data portability, data sharing and interoperability to promote competitive alternatives in these sectors might be up to the job. 

The DOJ case would be standard antitrust fare, alleging that Google has used its monopoly in general search to harm companies seeking to compete with them in the adjacent market for vertical search.  Even if found guilty, the remedy for this would allow the harmful market structure allowing Google’s dominance in general search to persist.  The same is true of proposals to separate platforms and commerce: the dominant platform would continue as a monopolist.

This is consistent with antitrust doctrine as currently understood and practiced according to which monopolies are not the problem.  The key objective of the current antitrust approach is to stop companies from using unfair means to obtain or maintain a monopoly.  

But no matter how specific the remedies, enduring monopolies find other ways to exercise their monopoly power to harm consumers and fledgling rivals.  The point of competition policy must be to promote competitive alternatives, not to constrain the conduct of companies with durable monopoly power.   

Several years ago, long-time antitrust practitioner and government official Phil Verveer warned against dealing with the problems of tech by bringing another big antitrust case.  Over the summer, he, former Federal Communications Commissioner Tom Wheeler, and consumer advocate and former DOJ official Gene Kimmelman published a