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#wmf: Guardian will target international audiences as ‘untapped business’

May 20th, 2010Posted by in Business, Events

Global audiences are an untapped business opportunity for the Guardian, Steve Folwell, Guardian Media Group director of strategy, told a Westminster Media Forum gathering on ‘The Future of News Media’ today.

According to the last Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic (ABCe), 65 per cent of traffic to Guardian.co.uk in March came from outside of the UK. Revenue generated by UK and non-UK audiences does not break down the same way, but the figure points to “significant opportunities from global audiences”, he said.

Editorially-speaking the Guardian launched an American spin-off site in 2007. But according to Editor & Publisher the venture was due to cut six staff last year, the site’s separate homepage was axed and its content was brought back under Guardian.co.uk’s US channel, suggesting that international business expansion might not be matched by editorial launches overseas.

There is a crossover between GMG’s approach editorially and its business model, however, said Folwell. The group is not interested in short-term profits, but in fundamentally changing its business model, he said. In particular the new opportunities that new devices, platforms and technology provide for distributing journalism and making money will be full explored – developments yet to come such as a Guardian presence on IPTV, for example, and the newly launched commercial side to its data and development service, Open Platform.

Technology has always been on the side of journalism. It has radically increased it’s reach, it’s immediacy (…) But all is not rosy in this garden and it’s a fair question to ask if this brave new age of journalism can be sustained economically?

Technology is certainly not on the side of those who want to preserve the status quo. You either hang on to the old bus models for as long as you can (…); or you can make a more fundamental change to your bus model. In taking the latter route it obviously helps hugely to have strong owners with strong balance sheets.

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