Guardian Says Its Open Platform Is Now Open for Business

Guardian developer Chris Thorpe

The Guardian newspaper in Britain, which has been providing content to developers through its Open Platform project for a little over a year on an experimental basis, took the beta label off the project today and launched it as a full-fledged business venture. Chris Thorpe, its developer advocate, says the paper wants to use its open API to partner with developers and companies to create sustainable businesses based in part on Guardian content, by licensing and sharing in ad revenue. “The Open Platform is now open for business,” he said in an interview in Toronto in advance of the launch.

One of the partners that The Guardian has worked with to create a custom application using the Open Platform is the British government, as part of the tourism department’s Enjoy England campaign. The newspaper used its open API to create an interactive map for the tourism office that pulls in content from its database for hundreds of locations around the country. The application lives within The Guardian site, but can also be embedded in the tourism office’s site or anywhere else for that matter.

Thorpe said the paper is also working with a number of commercial websites and services that specialize in content based around niche interests such as specific football teams, and is sharing in the advertising revenue that comes from them. The Open Platform offers three levels of access for developers and companies, he said:

  • Tier 1 – Keyless : Free access to Guardian headlines, tags and meta data. No registration or key required. Partners can keep any associated revenue earned using Guardian content on their own applications.
  • Tier 2 – Approved : License to publish Guardian articles in full. The Guardian embeds ads, performance tracking and a watermark within the articles it makes available. Partners can keep any associated revenue earned. Registration and access key required.
  • Tier 3 – Bespoke : Custom solutions for licensing content and integrating rich applications directly within the Guardian network. It offers sponsorship, licensing, revenue sharing and other custom commercial programs.

Unlike newspapers that are closing off their content by putting up paywalls — including the New York Times (s nyt) and the Times of London, which is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (s news) empire — Thorpe said The Guardian believes it needs to open up its content in order to grow and become successful online, and that the open platform and open API are a key part of that. Thorpe compared what the newspaper is doing to the strategies used by social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and web giants like Google (s goog), which have used open APIs to allow developers to create services and applications that connect to or integrate content and features from their networks.

In the video clip embedded below, Thorpe describes the platform. The Guardian developer who headed up the project, Matt McAlister, also has a blog post about the launch, and a slideshow presentation that was done by The Guardian team for it is available on Slideshare. In addition to the Open Platform, the newspaper has also launched its members-only club for readers called Extra, which offers readers who sign up preferred access to live events and special deals. There’s more on that at the Guardian’s website:


Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d): Are Sponsored Apps the Key for Traditional Media in Mobile?