One year after launch, Guardian Australia on track to turn a profit (after it has repaid backer Graeme Wood) - Press Gazette

One year after launch, Guardian Australia on track to turn a profit (after it has repaid backer Graeme Wood)

Just over a year after launch The Guardian claims its Australia edition is on course to turn a profit.

And according to ABC figures cited by The Guardian, traffic to Guardian Australia has increased to 5.55m unique browsers in May 2014 (compared with around 3m a year earlier).

Launched on 27 May, Guardian Australia is the third edition of the website – after the UK and the US.

Along with the Mail Online's Australia edition which launched earlier this year, The Guardian has disrupted an existing Australian media scene which is dominated by News Corp and Fairfax Media.

The Guardian has made an impact in Australia under launch editor Katharine Viner (who is now to head up the Guardian US operation) with coverage which has included an exclusive essay written by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard after her resignation. The Gillard piece appeared in September and scooped the rest of the Australian media.

In February this year The Guardian gathered eye-witness accounts following a week of unrust at the Manus Island detention centre for asylum seekers. It also published the only video footage of the riots and it also spoke to the family of a man who was killed.

Today GMG chief executive Miller answered Press Gazette's questions about the launch of Guardian Australia:

Would you have moved into Australia anyway, or did you launch in Australia because of the investment from entrepreneur Graeme Wood?

“We were trying to understand how we grow The Guardian. We saw an audience just like the States, in Australia. We met [Wood] and explored the idea of how we do this."

How does the investment work? Will he get his money back before the Scott Trust sees a return on Guardian Australia?

"We’ve got a confidentiality agreement. It’s a loan, so he will get his money back first. But if we decide not to continue in Australia then there’s no obligation to repay the loan."

Is there a danger that what you are doing, by offering a high-quality free news website in Australia, will cost jobs for journalists on the (mostly-paywalled) existing Australian newspapers?

"I understand those concerns, but if it wasn’t us disrupting them it would be other people. The reality of the world they are facing is, maybe it is taking longer there than in the UK, but it is going to be disrupted whether we all like or not by generally free-to-air news."

Will Guardian Australia be profitable? And if so when?

"Absolutely, we have a core business plan in Australia as we do for the States which works on the basis that the divisions will be self-sustaining and profitable in their own right over several years."

So long-term the international operations won’t be a drain on the resources of the Scott Trust?

"We are a global news organisation now and the Guardian has to be self-sustaining over a period of time. Luckily because we are private and because we are owned by a trust and because we are really engrained in the digital world I am realistic this is going to take many years before this is self-sustaining in the current landscape we are in."

What is the business model of Guardian Australia?

"Just like the UK it’s going to be a combination of display advertising, membership activities and investigating other opportunities as the digital world develops. A lot of off-platform as well as on-platform."

Former Guardian columnist Michael Wolff suggested that the ad-sales side of the operation was failing in the US. Is that the case, and how are ad sales bearing up in Australia?

"The great thing about the Guardian is that comments are free and facts are sacred. The facts are in the US that we are well ahead of target and growing revenue nicely. I don’t pay much attention to tittle tattle like that."

In March, The Guardian exceeded 100m unique browsers worldwide for the first time according to ABC. Each 'browser' is a different device accessing the site.

According to The Guardian, here is how that traffic breaks down:



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Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette