@ OPA: Guardian Mulls India Launch – But What Price A Brand Extension?

Guardian.co.uk, which last year set up its GuardianAmerica.com US subsite, is now considering launching in several more territories. Asked what follows the US expansion: Digital content director Emily Bell told the Online Publishers Association Forum For The Future what could follow the US launch: “You would certainly look to India; you’d probably look to the Middle East as a brand around comment and analysis. We’re looking very much at the Anglophile world because it’s a very simple step.” “We used to be Manchester, then it was the UK, now it’s the world … it’s a 10- or 20-year journey that you’re embarking on.”

The Guardian is amongst the UK newspapers to extend advertising outside the UK to capitalise on overseas traffic – in its case, with Reuters selling its ad inventory in the US. But, in a panel discussion on the internationalisation of online news brands at the Online Publishers Association’s Forum Of The Future in London, New York Times (NYSE: NYT) digital SVP Martin Nisenholtz interjected to say question the value of that traffic: “It’s misleading to suggest you have an international brand just because someone came from Google or clicked on a link from a blog. That’s not a brand extension – it’s a click.”

BBC News head of multimedia editorial development Pete Clifton said his site gets 73 million unique users each week – 47 percent of which comes from outside the UK. But Clifton grumbled: “There’s almost nothing been invested in marketing the international news site since I’ve been around. The way that we’ve promoted our (online) services (across outlets) has been haphazard – sometimes it doesn’t work.” UK BBC services recently got their integration act together but: “We haven’t developed that as well internationally – we should be clear that, if we are a multimedia organisation, then those arms should be linking up more together.”

Now that it’s competing internationally, The Guardian also called back its criticism of the BBC once more (see first pot-shot in our Carolyn McCall interview, second pot-shot last month). Bell said: “The BBC is going to be an enormous state-funded intervention in the US ad-funded online news market. The BBC publishes the largest online newspaper not just in the UK, but in the world.”