Winner: The Guardian
2019 was an important year in The Guardian’s history: in May it delivered its first operating profit for 20 years with 56% of revenues now from digital sources. It then set about tackling a new goal to gain the support of two million readers by 2022. Its business model is driven by reader contributions, reinforcing The Guardian’s purpose and values.
The Guardian also continued to drive digital innovation in the sector with a new daily news podcast, a revamped Guardian Weekly magazine and an Oscar-nominated documentary, Black Sheep.
Readers liked what they saw, too. December’s PAMCo figures showed The Guardian in the number one spot for all trust and engagement metrics; it was also the UK’s number one quality news brand, with a 34% increase in daily readership, year on year, to 5.4m. 2019 was also its biggest year for page views – up 20% year on year and with more than one billion impressions every month for the first time.
The Guardian showed its ethical credentials by becoming the first major international news organisation to achieve B Corp certification; it also made the decision to no longer accept fossil fuel advertising.
Online, theguardian.com attracted record reader numbers, and in print, The Guardian increased its quality market share, and was the leading performer year on year for the final four months of 2019. Print subscriptions rose 10%.
Cosmopolitan, Hearst UK
Against a background of declining circulations and magazine closures, Cosmopolitan was one of only four titles to maintain its ABC circulation above 200,000 – a considerable metric of success. This achievement is underpinned by a clear editorial strategy that bravely went against the grain, favouring investigative long-form journalism and content with purpose, ahead of clickbait coverlines. Digitally, Cosmopolitan.com/uk is currently 525% larger than its nearest competitors. In 2019, it averaged 13.2 million monthly unique users, compared with 9.9 million in 2018. Its total revenue across circulation, advertising and other areas such as licensing and accreditation was up 28% year in year.
Having undertaken a rigorous piece of consumer insight work that confirmed that, in consumer consciousness, although the Ladybird brand was much loved, it was perceived to be "nostalgic", "retro" and "old fashioned". Ladybird set about changing this in 2019. It reinvented its brand by developing new formats and introducing design-led styling. The changes paid off, with the sales value of its trade list growing by 39% in 2019, sales of its international editions grew 80% year on year and Ladybird achieved Superbrand status in 2019.
Dream Team from The Sun, News UK