The owner of Britain's Daily Mail newspaper said demand for advertising on its popular MailOnline website contributed to a 2% rise in underlying first-quarter revenue.

This keeps it on track to meet its full-year targets. 

Daily Mail and General Trust said 10% growth in digital advertising more than offset a 1% decline in print advertising across its newspaper titles in the three months to the end of December. 

MailOnline attracted 12 million visitors a day in the quarter, down 12% year-on-year due to reduced indirect traffic from Google and Facebook. 

Chief Executive Paul Zwillenberg, who took charge in 2016, has focused on establishing a direct relationship with online readers, which enables the group to sell its own advertising. 

"MailOnline has stayed very focused on improving engagement with its audience, bringing direct audiences into its front door, and globalising its programmatic (advertising) operations," he said today. 

"The result is increasing volumes and increasing yields," he added. 

Other digital publishers have relied on Facebook and Google to build audiences, but have in turn seen the tech giants grab the bulk of advertising revenue.

Reports this week said US digital publisher BuzzFeed was planning to lay off 15% of its workforce, while Verizon Communications, which owns Yahoo, said it was laying off 7% of the staff in its media unit. 

The Daily Mail newspaper, an influential voice in British politics, got a new editor last year when Geordie Greig replaced the long-serving Paul Dacre. 

The Daily Mail sold 1.22 million copies in December, down 12% year-on-year, according to ABC circulation figures published by Press Gazette.