a big year for The Guardian, and not just because of its historic scoop about the NSA’s vast electronic surveillance program, courtesy of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Bucking the dreary
trend in the publishing industry at large, the Britain-based newspaper with global ambitions also saw its revenues increase thanks in part to strong growth at its digital operations.
According to the Guardian Media Group plc, in the 52-week period ending March 30 2014, total revenues came to £210.2 million, up 6.8% from £196.8 million in the same period a year
before. At current exchange values, that works out to an increase from $336.5 million to $359.4 million.
The company’s digital revenues increased 24.3% from £55.9 million
to £69.5 million (from $95.6 million to $118.8 million) over the same period. In proportional terms, digital revenues contributed 33% of total revenues in the year ending March 30, 2014, up from
28.4% in the prior period.
Rather uniquely for a newspaper, the Guardian
also has a huge stockpile of cash thanks to the sale of it stake in Trader Media Group, which
specializes in classified display advertising, boosting the newspaper’s cash and investment fund to £842.7 million or around $1.4 billion. As the property of a charitable trust
, the Guardian Media Group does not distribute
profits and reinvests them in its core mission of journalism.
In terms of its business strategy, Guardian News & Media deputy chief executive David Pemsel noted that the trend
lines are all headed in the right direction, meaning digital and mobile: “40% of our traffic is coming through mobile, we’ve got a very strong recruitment business which is almost all
digital now… With these kind of year-on-year numbers and the blend of revenue changing so dramatically this has really been a huge endorsement of our strategy globally.”
On that note, the publisher is continuing to pursue an aggressive mobile strategy, Pemsel added: “We just launched our new suite of apps a month ago, and we’ve already got 320,000 users
within the first four weeks, which has allowed us to monetize that quite successfully.”
Looking ahead, Pemsel said that Guardian Labs, the company’s branded content
workshop, has more deals in the pipeline, although clients couldn’t be named. The Guardian
has already produced branded content campaigns for EE, a major mobile service provider in
Britain, and Unilever.
On the U.S. front Guardian News & Media also revealed plans to open a West Coast office to expand its commercial and digital presence, forging business and
technology links in Silicon Valley and other parts of California.