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The Guardian monetizes app via subscriptions, iAd integration

January 27, 2011

The Guardian tests various app monetization models

The Guardian has launched a revamped news application for iPhone and iPod touch that it is monetizing via a partnership with Apple’s iAd network in the United States and subscriptions in the rest of the world.

The Guardian application costs $4.77 for six months and $6.36 for a year in Britain and other global territories, except in the U.S. where the app is free and ad-funded. Brands such as State Farm are already running iAd campaigns within the U.S. version of the application.

“We want to let people access our content on almost every platform out there, and this is a new app essentially,” said Steve King, head of digital marketing at The Guardian, London. “In the U.S. market, we have only been able to secure 8 percent of our downloads, and we have a subscriber model everywhere else, but in the U.S. it is free and ad-supported to help build its reach.

“We’ve integrated the iAd platform across it, and we’re going to see how that goes,” he said. “The app’s rich, customizable experiences are unlike anything else in our digital portfolio, and the new version is a big upgrade based on feedback from people that use the app heavily.

“Dual strategy that includes mobile Web and apps—if you want to consume our content, it is free and ad-funded on the mobile site, but if you want a custom app with more advanced functionality, there is a subscription fee.”

On – the Guardian’s mobile site that relaunched in November 2010 – an average of 169,488 unique browsers visited the site on a daily basis, a rise of 210 percent year on year.

The mobile site had 3,069,782 unique browsers in November 2010, a rise of 231 percent year on year.

Forty percent of browsers who currently access (1,240,548) do so via an iPhone, and a further 243,657 access it from an iPod touch.

The first Guardian application for iPhone and iPod touch launched in December 2009 and was downloaded 214,000 times.

New news app
Designed and developed by Urban Airship and an in-house team using the Guardian’s content API, the new Guardian application for iPhone and iPod touch showcases news, comments, features, photo galleries and multimedia, including’s video for the first time.

The new version of the application, available in the App Store or at, has a range of enhanced features, including video available over 3G and Wi-Fi and live football/soccer scores and goal alerts by team or match.

In addition, users can get automatic updates for live blogs, including minute-by-minute sports coverage, as well as integrated reader comments underneath stories.

The application’s new homepage design includes a multimedia carousel, with trending topics and most-viewed stories.

Landscape reading mode and a search facility with access to the entire archive round out the new features.

The Guardian is also currently working on developing applications for the iPad and other tablets.

The news organization is promoting its new application for iPhone and iPod touch via a number of different routes, including print ads in its papers, as well as blasts to its database of consumers who have expressed an interest in it.

“We’ve used Twitter and social networks a lot given that our audience is a younger, tech-savvy, media-interested, highly engaged consumer,” Mr. King said. “Most users access the app every day, and they are very active in social space.

“We are using paid-for mobile media to drive downloads, running ads across Millennial Media and AdMob networks aimed at iPhone and iPod touch users,” he said. “ reaches more than 3.4 million unique users, and we’re running ads promoting the app there, as well as at”

Final Take
The Guardian

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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