The Guardian turns away gambling ad dollars, accepts losing out on big money deals

Guardian Australia said its move to turn away all gambling ad dollars will result in ad revenue losses “in the multi-millions”. However, if not now, the decision to cut ties with its fastest-growing ad category will only get harder from here.

The publisher will now stop accepting gambling advertising for online, audio, video and print content as a part of the media group’s global move to “do the right thing”.


Guardian Australia’s commercial director, Mason Rook, said while it’s certainly a big chuck of revenue to walk away from, it will become a win-win solution from not only consumer and moral points of view, but also for other advertisers appearing on The Guardian.

“By making hard and fast rules around the kinds of brands that we will and won’t work with, it does create a better-trusted environment, and advertisers that we do work with will see those results coming through in their campaigns,” Rook told Mumbrella.

The publication will look into other verticals to partially offset that loss of revenue, Rook said, including sectors like hybrid cars, banking and finance, alongside lifestyle and entertainment.

However, Guardian Australia is also betting on the ban’s positive impact on reader revenues, stemming from the trust in its journalism that the publisher aims to build its whole reputation around.


Guardian Australia’s editor, Lenore Taylor, said gambling ads were the things she received the most complaints about from readers.

In the opinion piece Taylor penned for the publication yesterday, she said that “Guardian Australia will now be able to report on the unfolding debate about gambling harm in this country certain that we are not contributing to the problem”.

This decision came as a parliamentary inquiry into online betting and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm was in the process of finalising its report and list of recommendations.

Taylor told Mumbrella: “Our readers were telling us very clearly that they didn’t like reading sports surrounded by gambling ads.

“The public is saying that sports have become too entwined with wagering that the idea is being promulgated through this ubiquitous advertising. You can’t really be a sports fan now, if you don’t gamble.

“And I want our readers to be able to trust and respond to our editorial content and the advertising content.”

The Guardian also announced in 2020 that it will stop accepting fossil fuel advertising. When asked whether the publication will make other similar decisions on societal issues in the future, Rook and Taylor said there weren’t others in the pipeline, but will assess on a case-to-case basis.

Regarding whether there is potential for a bigger industry-wide initiative on similar issues, both Rook and Taylor agreed that The Guardian is not here to tell other businesses what to do.

“I think, certainly for some of the broadcasters, and for some of the sporting codes, the dependency on wagering advertising is quite profound, so it would be very difficult for them to get to ban it altogether,” Taylor said.

Rook added: “If they wanted to take a stance, which is putting the value of consumers or their audience and Australians at the core, they could make a more progressive decision around this thing around their approach.”


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