Guardian News & Media has recorded a 50 per cent increase in digital advertising revenue in the first six months of the financial year, its managing director said this morning.
Tim Brooks said that GNM was ‘quite content’with its digital offering as the Guardian.co.uk website was attracting around two million visitors each day while the mobile version of the site had recorded triple-digit growth in readership.
Speaking at the AOP conference, Brooks said GNM’s immediate digital future would be spent focusing on the editorial and commercial possibilities of mobile platforms and developing apps for smartphones and tablets, like the iPad.
The quickly shifting nature of development, Brooks said, meant it was hard to identify which areas were likely to bring strong revenue but he said that the low cost of digital publication encouraged greater experimentation as it enabled developers to ‘fail more cheaply”.
Brooks said the Guardian’s free Eye Witness iPad app – which was launched the day after the iPad in the UK – had been developed for less than £10,000 in under two days.
GNM’s pursuit of an open access online journalism model – as apposed to a paywall – enabled it to build ad networks around key content areas, he added.
It recent months Guardian.co.uk has launched new environment and international development websites which opened it up to new ad revenue, he said.
In addition, more than 3,000 developers had signed up to the Guardian’s open platform since launch earlier this year, he said, allowing the company to extend its digital experimentation beyond the 58 in-house digital engineers.
Brooks said: ‘The scale of our business has changed beyond our wildest imaginings, we now have the opportunity to monetise that scale â€¦we are increasing in demand with people who were previously unaware of our existence. The challenge is to leverage that scale into a profitable business.”
Operating loss at GNM, the division which publishes The Guardian and The Observer, increased to £37.8m in its last full financial year to the end of March as parent company Guardian Media Group‘s pre-tax losses increased 77 per cent to £171m.
Despite this GMG said digital revenue at GNM had ‘declined only marginally’in this period. The publisher didn’t break out its digital contribution to total revenue in March.
In September last year Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger revealed that GNM had lost around £20m on Guardian.co.uk since 2002.