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Becoming the Financial Times

Becoming The Financial Times
Staying on the track is more important than beating the race.

Let’s be frank. Becoming one of the leading online publishers is quite hard. You’ve already experienced the rollercoaster with The Guardian. As we promised, we’re taking you again, this time with the Financial Times.

Why the Financial Times?

Everyone in adtech knows ft.com for its whooping readership and successful paid membership model. But there’s more than what meets the eye.

They pioneered the online news space and have initiated the paid subscription model. They took the necessary risks and of course, had their struggles during the early years.

It took 7 years for Financial Times to get into the black.

In fact, they still do. Even last year, they only managed to get just ~£10m profit on revenue of £452m.

However, what pushed us to cover their story – Strategic decisions. Financial Times never hesitated to be the first and always bounced back after criticism. FT is one of the few media companies which profited in the midst of the 2008 – 2009 financial crisis (Src). Do we need any more reasons?

How it all started?

It’s often more convenient to look at how many million readers ft.com has today than to actually see their numbers back in 1995.

Yeah, the Financial Times made its online debut with the launch of ft.com in the middle of 1995. As you have guessed, it’s way too early. To put this into perspective, there were only 23,500 websites in 1995 with internet users summing up to just 40 million (of those, only 1.1 million users were from the UK) (Src).

Ft.com is one of the 23,500 websites in 1995.

FT.com didn’t even have a million visitors for the first four years. We couldn’t find the estimates, however, Pearson’s annual report suggests that the website crossed 1 million visitors for the first time during the 1998 – 1999 period (Src).  

Financial Times in 1997

The website was more of a content syndication service drawing on over 50 million articles from 5,000 sources. All the profits were from the booming print advertising, ft.com didn’t make any profit.

At the time Forrester said the typical content-providing site will lose $2 million annually. 

Where they are today?

FT reaches, on average, over 26 million readers every month and has over 714,000 digital subscribers. They managed to make £452.5 million last year as per a resource (Src).

Does it look easy?

Because Pearson Plc and now, Nikkei (the parent of FT Group) both invested millions to revamp and improve ft.com and built in-house technologies to deliver results to the advertisers. From Live News to News Feed to Newsletters, ft.com offers a lot more than you probably think. So, it’s not anywhere near easy.

The Financial Times in 2021

We can see an anomaly in the growth projections. Typically, a content site (legendary and pretty old) will grow its user base by 50x or 100x (take The Guardian for example) in two decades. But ft.com reaches only 25 million.

Well, that’s Financial Times. They are peculiar and precise in their marketing strategies and content creation. Reaching the most influential people and business decision-makers is their goal. Nothing more, nothing less.

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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