The Guardian Considering Putting Some Content Behind Paid Membership

girl with a laptop sitting on newspapers
SHARE
THIS



The Guardian is considering putting some content behind a paid membership scheme for its UK and global sites that includes Australia.

The international publication already has a membership scheme in place – which is internally termed membership 1.0. It was first launched in September 2014 in the UK and is still in ‘beta’ mode as the publisher tests out various functions. Membership 1.0 gives members access to various Guardian associated events and masterclasses. So far it hasn’t been actively marketed in Australia and most of the membership benefits have been in the UK.

However, there’s a revised membership scheme in discussions at the moment which gives readers additional and bespoke content from journalists, explained Margy Vary, head of marketing at The Guardian Australia. 

The revised scheme will be an add-on to membership 1.0 and will feature content only available to people who are members of The Guardian. It won’t include mainstream news and current affairs. While there hasn’t been a final decision made yet on the new scheme The Guardian appointed Natalie Hanman to the role of executive editor for membership in late January this year. Hanman had previously been the editor of the publication’s section Comment is Free.

The Guardian has been outspoken in its intent to not put its content behind a paywall as many competitors have. Vary said this conversation has softened somewhat in recent times, however was still adamant they would never ask readers to pay for news and current affairs.

“We still don’t believe in paywalls being the main business model,” she explained to B&T, “and we would never put main news behind a paywall. There would never be anything that prevented anybody who wanted and needed to know what was going on from finding out for free.

“But we believe there are certain elements of content that we can have for a financial and membership model…that will add value to your experience.”

While believing paywalls are flawed business models for general news sites, Vary does say it works for niche and highly targeted publications like The Financial Times, as people are coming there for a very specific reason.

“We’ve got to find the sweet spot in between where we don’t want to offend anybody but at the same time add value.”

The membership scheme comes at a time when publishers need to find more revenue streams due to dwindling display ad revenue.

With the advent of ad blockers, Vary said they needed to find other ways to fund the publication and having the support from others helps.

There’s a number of membership tiers in the scheme, depending on what kind of access you want and how much you’re willing to pay. B&T understands there’s more than 155 thousand members globally.

Kath Viner, editor of The Guardian, said it’s about having a deeper relationship with the member, and a way for the loyal readers to give back to the publisher.

“We are not going to be introducing a paywall, it is about a deeper relationship,” she said at an event in London, according to the Press Gazette.

“The most loyal readers really feel like they own The Guardian and those who work there are just passing through. What I want to do is really help cement our relationship with those readers, take them really seriously, bring them in and get them paying for it.”

An official statement from The Guardian said: “We are constantly exploring ways to better engage with our audiences and to bring our ground-breaking open journalism to life for our readers.

“We have already been on an incredibly successful journey from print to digital, and are now considering new revenue streams, including a greater focus on live experiences and a new membership scheme to bring our readers closer to our journalism and our brand.

“This isn’t about introducing a paywall. We are exploring new ways to monetise our audience, one of which is a potential new membership scheme to allow our readers to engage more closely with our journalism and our brand.

“The Guardian’s open approach to journalism and its readers means that we are constantly looking at new ways to engage our audiences and enable them to get involved with our content.”

The interview with Vary was conducted during the thumping beats of WOMAD, a cultural music festival in Adelaide. B&T travelled to WOMAD as a guest of The Guardian’s.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Case Study: How Content Helped Tribal Marketing Come To Life Amongst Rev-Heads.
  • Opinion

Case Study: How Content Helped Tribal Marketing Come To Life Amongst Rev-Heads.

In this guest post, CEO of content marketing agency Edge, Fergus Stoddart (pictured below), says brands would do well to play on their customer’s loyal tribalism… Normally over Christmas, any downtime is spent asleep on the sofa, mildly lubricated with a belly full. This year, with the Ashes in the background, I managed to stay awake […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Red Bull Holden Racing Team Unveils 2018 Cars On Sydney Harbour
  • Marketing

Red Bull Holden Racing Team Unveils 2018 Cars On Sydney Harbour

Red Bull Holden Racing team took the covers off its 2018 Holden Commodore Supercar today. Floating on a barge in Farm Cove, the harbour provided a stunning backdrop for the reveal. Teammates Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen have won the past two championships for the squad. Whincup, now the greatest of all time with seven Supercar’s titles, […]

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Technology

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency

As part of its summer fire campaign, the Victorian government has launched a virtual reality (VR) bushfire experience and content series via The Fuel Agency. The VR experience places the user in the midst of a large bushfire, and is designed to encourage people to leave early on high-risk days before it’s too late. The […]

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass
  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Technology

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass

ad tech company VeNA has signed an exclusive reseller partnership covering Australia and New Zealand with digital rugby network RugbyPass. Across Asia and parts of Europe, RugbyPass is the exclusive digital rights holder and over-the-top broadcaster for live rugby, including the Super Rugby, the Rugby Championship and autumn internationals, the Six Nations, the Aviva Premiership, […]

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD
  • Advertising

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD

Video advertising platform SpotX has announced it has appointed Gavin Buxton as managing director of Asia to lead the company’s expansion in the region. Buxton has over 17 years’ global experience in the digital advertising space, having worked in leadership roles at tech and publishing companies, including Microsoft, Turner Broadcasting, and LinkedIn, with the last […]

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands

B&T Awards 2017 finalist Big Mobile has unveiled a fresh look to reflect its new ad tech credentials. The company successfully pivoted its business from ad network to mobile ad tech vendor when it announced a joint venture (JV) with Widespace in October last year. As a result of the business changes, Big Mobile wanted […]

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager
  • Advertising

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager

Independent ad agency March One has appointed a fresh face to the team, with Melanie Tozer to reinforce its mission to put humans first as a senior account manager. Tozer (pictured above), an up-and-coming talent from New Zealand, will align her extensive experience in FMCG marketing with March One, having worked on accounts for Bunnings […]