News & Opinion

Guardian CEO Andrew Miller on going global

Guardian CEO Andrew Miller talks to Nieman Journalism Lab about paywalls, mobile and going global...

In an interview with Justin Ellis, Miller discusses the Guardian's global ambitions, its successful US launch, the publisher's paywall strategy and its mobile proposition.

"I took on the role two years ago and one of the first things I wanted to do was really understand where our readership is to try and see increasing ways of monetising the digital business. It took two seconds to realise that two-thirds of our readers are outside of the UK. And therefore I wanted to try a strategy of modest investment to make sure we increase the commercial opportunity of our readership."

The Guardian has launched in the US in that time and has increased its audience from eight million a year to 11.8 million users (comScore) - as well as tripled its revenue, according to Miller.

Australia is next on the list, followed by Canada. In terms of advertising, Miller said: "The next stage is trying to bring across some of the stuff we're doing in the UK, which is working directly with agencies and clients, using our knowledge of different areas of media - social media as well as our own browser, as well as mobile - to get the kind of format advertising that works for them in a more tailored and bespoke way, but without compromising out unique voice."

Miller said there is a strong demand for tablet content, though subscriber numbers fall "quite dramatically" after the free trial, which is to be expected. "The conversion rate we’ve seen is about 15% to 20% of the free trial. Which I think is pretty good, actually, by iPad type metrics."

On paywalls, Miller think its "horses for courses" - with paid-for content welcome in some environments, when you have a unique proposition that is aimed at a smaller audience, such as financial news, for example.

But Miller knows that if you want to own discussions with advertisers, it's important to have a large audience - and one that you understand. He confirmed that the Guardian wouldn't consider a paywall for news content, particularly news content via social media: "You’ll never have a paywall, because it doesn’t make sense. You want your news to be consumed in a social way."

Although he doesn't rule it out for "enhanced product formats" that offer added value. "But it only makes sense to have a paywall on the secondary level when you've got the right size of audience who'll convert to it," he added.

Talking about the Guardian's mobile proposition, Miller says growth, across all the geographies, is phenomenal. "To me, HTML5 or responsive-based is just actually being in the game now. If you're not, you'll have real issues serving content across all the tablet formats that are coming through so quickly."

Read the full interview here.

Source: Nieman Journalism Lab


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