The Guardian eyes India launch

The GuardianBritish newspaper The Guardian is sizing up India as a potential launch market.

The Guardian’s head of international editions revealed the paper’s interest in launching in one of the only media markets in the world where print advertising is still growing in an interview with Mumbrella’s Australia site today.

David Pemsel, the deputy MD of The Guardian, named India and Africa as attractive markets for the left-leaning newspaper, because of high traffic from these places to the Guardian’s global website, and the potential of reaching readers through mobile devices.

“There are big pockets of traffic from Africa and India and that’s probably something we should explore in the same way as we did when we came here and the States, and given who we are global reach of influence is important to us it would be very likely we’d look to those markets,” he told Mumbrella.

The Guardian launched an Australian edition in May of last year, and six months later revealed that it was considering launching in Asia next.

“We also go into these markets to learn. If you think about a legacy print business, the pace of change in Australia and the States keeps us on our toes.”

“In India bizarrely print’s growing and mobile, and the desktop browser doesn’t really exist at all, so the idea of being able to learn quickly in the mobile space in India is just very interesting,” Pemsel said.

“Going back to the trust principal, because we’re not answerable to shareholders looking for that quarter on quarter hit, we can play a lot. And we can say what can you believe we would learn in three years’ time if we were in these markets, and it makes us more strategic.”

Pemsel said the group was also considering the possibility of launching its dating site, Guardian Soulmates, in other markets, as it looks to go beyond “anonymous user data” and learn more about its audience, in addition to rolling out a redesigned website and mobile apps in the next quarter.

He also took a swipe at rivals which needed to satisfy shareholders, saying they had not managed to make the transition to the digital age, adding: “In that world you’ve got to be able to come up with soundbites like ‘print’s very strong’ to keep the shareholders off your back.”

The Guardian’s prospects for success in Asia were debated by media executives in a debate on Mumbrella in November last year, and not everyone was convinced it would fly.

The international boss of PR agency Golin Harris told Mumbrella: “English is more acceptable for a broader regional format and while there are some Asian online news and views websites none have yet been very successful. Even well-established media brands such as the FT and WSJA are doing OK but not stunning successes.”


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