Guardian chief exec: Aim is for membership fees to make up a third of revenue

The Guardian is aiming to make its membership scheme account for one third of the overall revenues at Guardian News Media (GNM) within three years, according to Guardian Media Group (GMG) chief executive David Pemsel, speaking at Digital Media Strategies 2016.

According to event organiser Media Briefing, Pemsel also said the Guardian had been guilty of not fully monetising its global expansion.

Pemsel said the publisher had become too focused on the “big number” of its global audience which had concealed the strategic issues it faced.

Pemsel said: “I think all those big numbers are a proof point about how fast and innovative we’ve been in getting to digital [but] monetising anonymous reach is essentially over.

“To be able to parade around and say ‘we’re big’ is not good enough. We want to convert our anonymous reach into a known audience.”

Pemsel went on to explain the importance of creating communities as part of the Guardian’s membership scheme.

He said: “In this new strategy we’ve said membership will involve content we expect members to pay for.

"One size does not fit all. When you have something that has been dedicated.. to the sort of journalism we have been…the trust we have with our readers suggests there’s an opportunity to create communities around the philosophy of membership and ask our readers to contribute more.”

Unlike The Times, the Guardian has plotted a course of offering its news content free.

Pemsel said that within the next three years, the aim was to have a third of the Guardian's revenues coming through membership and "25-30 percent" generated through the Guardian's native advertising proposition, Guardian Labs.

Guardian News and Media is currently seeking to cut £54m a year from its annual budget and has said that it will report a loss of more than £50m for the year to the end of March. Its investment fund has depleted by more than £100m over the last year.


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