2 thoughts on “How can ‘The Guardian’ survive?

  1. Anonymous

    Feb 02. 2017

    Great piece, as I understand it they’ve also been running a very large team of developers for the last few years. Obviously delivering a strong reading experience to various digital platforms is highly important (and they’ve done a very good job of that) but apparently without any clear path to monetisation! They will always be welcome to my subscription revenue however…

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  2. Great piece as ever Colin. I find it a shame that The Guardian, among others, have not been bolder, sooner. Particularly because they are sitting on the resources to actually make some decent bets.

    My brief thoughts:

    – When will people understand that ad-funded models in digital are generally a very bad place to be unless you are either a) VERY large (a la Google, Facebook etc) or b) VERY lean/focused (like this blog?). This seems to have been very clear for a very long time (and due to get worse as the digital media duopoly consolidate their dominance) but people blunder on with a strategy that appears to be based on hope or denial.

    – In the face of digital disruption many businesses, I believe, can chart a course for survival but they must recognise they’ll need to get much smaller first. And most businesses, for ego/vanity or short term share price punishment reasons, seem unable to swallow ‘getting smaller’. The Guardian, for example, could aim to get to breakeven at £100m revenue and £100m costs? And I don’t think it would have to sacrifice its quality, influence, credibility, brand, impact, or the Trust’s purpose in doing that.

    – I think GMG has missed a big opportunity in B2B. We know that many media businesses make most of their profits in B2B where there are clear business models that work. GMG won big with Autotrader (which, really, is more B2B than B2C as I believe most of the profits come from dealerships). The Guardian has the ingredients (brand, reach, cash, contacts, content, tech talent etc) to make Guardian Professional Networks (https://www.theguardian.com/guardian-professional) a sizeable and lucrative business. But they haven’t. The execution, proposition and model have been completely wrong. Which is a shame. Take a look at https://www.intouchnetworks.com/ for example. A fantastic business. Gone from £1m to £6m revenue in a year. Why didn’t The Guardian do something like this?

    There is still time but I hope they use their remaining cash to make some big changes and some big bets that they, and Britain, can be proud of.

    Ashley Friedlein
    Founder, Econsultancy

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