GNM board restructures to meet new challenges

Guardian News & Media (GNM) has overhauled its board structure, with current commercial director Adam Freeman stepping up to take overall responsibility for marketing and the financial performance of The Guardian, Observer and guardian.co.uk.

Freeman takes the title of director of consumer media, and the restructure will see GNM marketing director Marc Sands and Joe Clark, director and general manager, leave the company at the end of the year.

These and other changes follow the publisher’s strategic review as it tries to address the structural changes in the publishing business and the drastic decline in advertising revenues caused by the recession.

Tim Brooks (pictured), managing director of GNM, told Marketing Week that the board changes “essentially see us removing the alignment of our business by function to orientate to a focus on revenue”.

He says that while the newspapers are still the “biggest single revenue stream” as GNM mutates into a new media company “our revenue stream will become much more diverse”.

“The name of the game is that we have a very interested, sizeable and dedicated audience, both in print and online. Adam will try to deepen those relationships and monetise them.”

Brooks outlined various sources of potential revenue, including the development of digital apps. The Guardian launched its Open Platform initiative in March that allows partners to reuse Guardian.co.uk content and data free, and the publisher ultimately hopes to monetise some of the development work.

It is also due to appoint a membership club head, and Brooks says: “We see it as a serious revenue provider. If we get it right, it develops new revenue streams at the same time as bringing our most enthusiastic readers closer to us.”

Regarding the marketing function at GNM, Brooks says that most of the spend in recent years has been on marketing the product and associated promotions but the campaigns have been “well-executed and extremely consistent with the brand values of the group’s products”.

Parent company Guardian Media Group posted a pre-tax loss of £89.8m in the 12 months to the end of March 2009.

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