Earnings: FT.com Subs Up 13 Percent, Ad Outlook Uncertain

FT added 13 percent more digital subscribers in 2007, taking it up to 101,000. In the year it remodeled its subs strategy to let out more free stories but keep a premium lid on the offering, monthly unique users went up 30 percent to 5.7 million; page views up a third to 48.2 million. The stats suggest FT.com has found more new customers following the move – but not at the same rate it’s attracted users of the free stories as a whole.

It did, however, get 150,000 new user registrations since the switch in October – data that can be used for demographic ad targeting. Newspaper circs were up two percent to 440,000 in the second half of the year and there were 19 percent more print subscriptions.

FT Group profits grew 30 percent to £153 million in 2007, helping Pearson’s (NYSE: PSO) adjusted operating profit up 14 percent to £634 million. Digital services made up 63 percent of the group’s revenue (£426.56 million) – that’s up from 28 percent back in 2000. Pearson boasted it had increased its digital and subscription efforts while reducing reliance on print advertising. Indeed, advertising made up only 30 percent of FT revs – down from 52 percent in 2000 – “but future advertising trends remain difficult to predict”. FT Group did revenue of £688 million – up 12 percent on last year.

Pearson’s Penguin and DK book publishers saw 34 percent more subscriptions to opt-in newsletter, taking it to 150,000 addresses. In the earnings call, CEO Marjorie Scardino said she wanted to: “Push our boat out in to this digital, 21st Century river.”

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