Instead of Adding a Paywall the Guardian Builds a Larger Audience

Guardian.co.ukI've been pretty down on newspapers lately, at least the ones ducking behind paywalls. Going behind a paywall, unless you're the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, is the equivalent of putting up a going out of business sign, albeit with a long lead time. There are, however, alternatives. The newspapers that adapt and win the internet will be the ones that take advantage of the expanded audience potential that the internet offers. The UK's Guardian newspaper is doing just that.

According to Paid Content, one third of the Guardian's readers are in the US now with US traffic up 37% last year.
"The Guardian’s expansion into the United States is on track, editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger (see disclosure) said at the paidContent Live conference Wednesday. Rusbridger said that the Guardian’s global audience is about 40 million readers, according to comScore data, with one-third of them in the U.S., one-third in the U.K. and one-third in the rest of the world.

“It wasn’t us waking up one morning saying, ‘let’s impose The Guardian on these Americans,’” Rusbridger told GigaOM/paidContent senior writer Mathew Ingram. The Guardian’s U.S. traffic grew at around 37 percent last year, Rusbridger noted, while the site’s traffic as a whole grew by 25 percent. But before the decision to expand to the U.S., “we spent no money marketing to America at all.”

Rusbringer says that he's not 'opposed to paywalls' and I'm sure that he is not. Although the numbers aren't available it's logical to assume that every time a newspaper of any size goes behind a paywall, the Guardian and other free publications see a jump in readership. By bowing out of the race paywalled newspapers are, in effect, ceding ad revenue to publications that are still in the game.

Watch a video of the full interview at Paid Content.
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