Guardian appoints Anna Bateson as first chief customer officer

Anna Bateson becomes the Guardian's first chief customer officer

Guardian News & Media (GNM) has appointed Anna Bateson into the newly created role of chief customer officer that will see the publisher join the dots from the different customer revenues it generates.

Bateson joined the Guardian in December in the new role as VP of platforms and partnerships, which has seen her develop and managing the publisher’s partnerships with big platforms such as Facebook and Google.

It was a fitting role for Bateson who joined the Guardian from Google where she was director of global consumer marketing at YouTube.

She will continue managing these partnerships in the new customer-focused role, but will additionally take on global responsibility for the Guardian’s membership, subscription and contributions programmes, syndication and licensing, and other consumer revenues including the Guardian’s live events.

She will also oversee the Guardian brand and all Guardian marketing.

The introduction of the role of chief customer officer brings together all these areas of the business together for the first time and forms part of the Guardian’s reader-first strategy.

The Guardian is one of many British newspapers that has seen its print readership drop and is working to extract better value from the loyalists it still attracts. Print circulation has dropped from 341,000 copies in April 2005 to just 154,000 in April this year.

The newspaper, in common with much of the rest of the print industry, has been nursing heavy losses as it adapts to the new economics of digital publishing.

It posted an operating loss of £37.8m for the year ended April 2017, and a sharp drop in print advertising, leading the publisher to shift its format from Berliner to the more affordable tabloid adopted by the rest of the British press.

What's more, to counter such declines in circulation and advertising revenue, the publisher has been looking to the donations of members. It now claims to have more than 230,000 members who pay a minimum of £5 a month, and 185,000 digital and print subscribers.

Bateson held numerous roles at Google and YouTube in a seven-year stint. Prior to joining Google she led brand and viewer marketing at the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster ITV and was VP of marketing at MTV Networks.

On her appointment Bateson said: “There’s never been a more exciting time to be at the Guardian – the reader-first strategy is ahead of the curve for news organisations. Our bold move to create a membership proposition is already paying off. I’m excited to be spearheading our customer focused teams to forge deeper relationships and help the Guardian grow new areas of revenue.”

Guardian Media Group chief executive David Pemsel added: “Anna is the perfect fit for our first chief customer officer. We have made readers and customers absolutely central to the success of the Guardian’s strategy and Anna’s skills and experience have so far brought cohesion and vision to our portfolio of digital partnerships and revenue drivers. She’ll bring her vast customer-centric know-how to this crucial new role.”

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Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

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