Since John Ridding took over as CEO of Pearson's Financial Times in 2006, the business newspaper has pioneered the metered model, grabbed the tablet opportunity and created a new way of measuring the brand's total audience.
“One thing we've tried to do is see the disruption as an opportunity rather than a challenge,” Ridding said.
In his more than 20 years with the FT, Ridding has worked in a variety of editorial and publishing roles. He led the launch of the Asia edition of the FT in 2003 and was the editor-publisher of the Financial Times-Asia. He also led the development of the FT's Chinese-language website, which has more than 1.7 million registered users. And he helped develop China Confidential, a paid-content product covering business in China. The FT recently developed a similar product, Brazil Confidential, continuing its investment in emerging markets.
On Ridding's watch, the FT has also been a prominent leader in creating new approaches to digital and mobile opportunities. Perhaps the most influential innovation implemented by FT.com is its metered model, which only begins charging users for access after they've read a specific number of stories on the website in a month. The model is credited with boosting online subscribers, which increased 29% last year to 267,000.
The FT has blazed a trail with tablets. In June 2011, it launched an HTML5-based mobile app that bypassed Apple Inc.'s App Store but still amassed more than 2 million users. Ridding said part of the reason the FT chose to make the end run around Apple, which controls reader data via the App Store, was to preserve the newspaper's “direct relationship with our audience.”
The FT has also created an innovative method for measuring its audience. The average daily global audience, or ADGA, measures the number of users who interact with the FT, whether digitally or via print, in a typical day. In the six-month period from June to November 2011, the ADGA was 2.2 million, a 5% increase over the previous six-month period.