‘This could be very interesting’
With 36 million users, Guardian.co.uk is one of the giants of the Internet. Mark Finney, the Guardian’s head of client sales, tells us what Murdoch’s paywalls could mean for it.
May 31, 2010 3:40 by Austyn Allison
Mark Finney, head of client sales at UK publishing house Guardian News and Media (GNM), spoke about “digital revolutions” at the Dubai Lynx Advertising Awards this year.
The Internet is changing the way we consume print, and publishers around the world are trying out different revenue models. Rupert Murdoch is preparing to charge for access to online content across all his News Corp. titles, but the Guardian’s online presence is remaining paywall-free. The newspaper’s print circulation is currently around 400,000, and falling, as is the readership of virtually all print dailies around the world. But Guardian.co.uk boasts 36 million readers internationally, including 12 million in the UK.
Finney won’t reveal GNM’s turnover from its print titles, but says the digital side of the business made around £25 million ($39 million) last year. Austyn Allison asked him about the changing business of print.
To what extent are readers migrating from print to online?
The honest answer to that is that no one knows. Some people have educated guesses, but no one knows. None of us, as far as I’m aware, has the kind of research to be able to directly track that. However, what we do know is that newspaper circulation during the week, Monday-to-Friday, is ebbing away. At the same time, rates of traffic to our sites are increasing. So there’s an obvious correlation between the two, but we can’t actually put our finger on it.
To what extent is spend moving in the same direction?
Again that’s a very difficult question to unpick. The newspaper industry is going through a structural and cyclical change at the moment.
Obviously, the recent recession has meant that advertising money has moved away from classified advertising, especially. The classified migration is a structural migration, as money goes online.
The cyclical events are more the ebb of display advertising, but that’s going to come back at some point. We are already seeing in the UK that our year-on-year figures are going to be pretty flat. That’s on a pretty rubbish year last year, so it’s not time to break out the Bollinger just yet, but what we do know is that advertising revenues online are in double-digit growth.
It’s hard to say how much of that is migration and how much is new business. I think it’s fair to say that a lot of classified revenues are going and will go forever, and will be replicated by cheaper mechanics of doing the same job online.