Blau will work across Guardian News and Media’s (GNM) editorial and commercial teams to develop digital content and products to grow its online audience and boost the company’s appeal to advertisers.
When he joins in April next year he will report jointly to chief executive officer Andrew Miller and editor in chief Alan Rusbridger.
Blau has been chief editor of Zeit Online for almost five years, tripling unique visits to the site since 2008. He was named Germany’s “chief editor of the year” by Medium Magazin in 2011.
A Guardian spokesman told Marketing Week various elements of the director of digital strategy have been looked after by other employees within the business before, but the company thought the time was now suitable to employ a dedicated director given the publication’s online scale.
The guardian.co.uk website reaches a global online audience of more than 6.4 million, according to National Readership Survey figures for the year to March 2012. GNM’s digital revenues rose 16 per cent to £45.7m in the same period.
The Guardian’s marketing team has undergone a major transformation this year as GNM took the decision to consolidate its sales and marketing divisions.
The move resulted in the promotion of its interim chief marketing officer David Pemsel to the new post of chief commercial officer and also the departures of global commercial director Chris Pelekanou and executive director of commercial Adam Freeman.