LONDON: The Guardian now has 500,000 regular paying supporters, made up of members and subscribers across print and digital, the news brand has announced.

It said it had more than doubled its regular paying supporter base in the past 12 months, with around 80% taking out digital subscriptions or memberships, and the remaining 20% subscribing to print publications.

On top of these, the title reported it had received more than 300,000 individual one-off contributions from readers in over 140 countries during the past year.

“Building deeper relationships with our readers has been a critical part of our three-year strategy and we are pleased with how this is progressing so far,” said David Pemsel, CEO, Guardian Media Group.

The Guardian’s digital marketing approach has been to add a “since you’re here …” note to the end of stories on its site, explaining that while there is no paywall, neither are there significant advertising revenues, and asking for support for the independent journalism the title produces.

Described by some as a “begging bowl”, others see it as a sensible description of the value-exchange involved. Either way, it seems to be working for now, but it remains to be seen whether it will carry the title to its goal of 1m subscribers by April 2019.

Alongside these appeals, the Guardian has also adopted a transparent approach to capturing data in order to better target readers with advertising and offers.

Focus groups established that readers already trusted the brand – they just needed to know why it wanted their data. So a video was created explaining “'Why your data matters to us”.

People didn't even have to watch the whole video – or, indeed, any of it – to be convinced by its message: simply by seeing that it existed, and perhaps reading the brief information that went beside it, there was immediate recognition by consumers of the openness that the Guardian wanted to maintain with readers, and acceptance of that.

Sourced from Guardian, Digiday; additional content by WARC staff