Ringier Group: Higher profit and strategic partnership with Palantir

  • Slight growth: operating profit increases to CHF 105.5 million
  • Digital share of operating profit at record level of 83%
  • Strategic partnership with AI and data software company Palantir
  • Sports Media growth area already leading in eight countries
  • CHF 100 million investment in digital development in 2023 
  • AA Bronson, member of the artist collective General Idea, designs the 27th Ringier Art Annual Report

The Ringier Group generated an EBITDA of CHF 105.5 million in the 2023 financial year, which corresponds to slight growth compared to the previous year (2022: CHF 104.9 million). The most important positive EBITDA drivers in 2023 in absolute terms were the digital marketplaces JobCloud, SMG Swiss Marketplace Group and Ticketcorner in Switzerland, Profession in Hungary, ejobs in Romania, the TV marketing company Admeira and Ringier Axel Springer Schweiz AG, which was merged into Ringier Media Switzerland in 2024.

The Ringier Group’s revenue amounted to CHF 918.9 million in the past year and is down slightly compared to 2022 (CHF 932.6 million). Operating costs largely followed the revenue trend, allowing the EBITDA margin to increase by 0.2 percentage points in 2023.

As of December 31, 2023, the Ringier Group employed 6,571 people (2022: 6,486). New hires were primarily focused on the new developed digital growth areas: Sports Media, numerous AI initiatives and the Ringier X project, which has been used as a group-wide innovation accelerator since January 2023 with the aim of promoting the growth and innovation mindset of all Ringier Group employees so that the business models and revenue streams of tomorrow can be built from today’s ideas.

The successful digital transformation of the Ringier Group has already led to a significant increase of the EBITDA digital share in recent years. This trend continued in 2023 with a record digital share of operating income of 83% (2022: 79%). This makes the Ringier Group one of the most digital media companies in Europe.

Marc Walder, CEO Ringier AG: “Despite a difficult macroeconomic environment and the continued pressure on the media sector, the Ringier Group was once again able to slightly increase its operating profit. At 83 %, the digital share of operating profit is at the highest level in the company’s history. The transformation from a newspaper and magazine publisher with printing plants to a digital and diversified international media company continues to make great progress.”

On the revenue side, the Group is benefiting from the continued expansion of digital products and new revenue streams in the three strategic core segments of Media, Marketplaces and Sports Media. The development of advertising revenues in the media segment remains challenging.

Media National

All shares in the Swiss joint venture Ringier Axel Springer Schweiz (RASCH) were acquired in November 2023 to expand the leading competitive position in the media segment. As part of this transaction, the previous RASCH magazine and journal titles, the Blick Group, Ringier Advertising  and the Ringier Mediatech & Services units were brought together under the umbrella of Ringier Media Switzerland. With 4.6 million users (≙ 50% of the Swiss population), the constant development of new offerings and closer cooperation between the media brands, Ringier Media Switzerland is positioning itself as a leading economic force among Swiss media companies.

Marc Walder, CEO Ringier AG: “The acquisition of Axel Springer in Switzerland in 2023 underlines our commitment to independent, relevant journalism. The Swiss media brands Blick, izzy, Beobachter, Handelszeitung, Bilanz, cash.ch, l’Illustré/TV8, PME, Schweizer Illustrierte, Glückspost, Tele, Landliebe, Caminada und Interview by Ringier are all in leading positions in their respective segments.”

In April 2024, ten months after the launch of the digital subscription, Blick+ won  first place in the category “Best Subscription or Registration Experience” at the INMA Global Media Awards in London.

Media International

The leading Polish news portal Onet, part of the joint venture Grupa Ringier Axel Springer Polska AG, has consolidated its position as the country’s most trusted digital media brand in the country according to the Reuters Institute’s “Brand Trust Index 2024”.

Ringier Slovakia took important restructuring measures to increase profitability, including the closure of less profitable web domains.

Ringier Hungary had every reason to celebrate its 30th anniversary as EBIT targets were exceeded despite a difficult environment with record high inflation. 

Ringier Romania is moving to a digital-first strategy for its leading media brand Libertatea.

At Ringier Serbia, Blic consolidated its status as the most trusted news source in the country and maintained its position as the leading Serbian website. Blic TV expanded its programming and increased its ratings.

In Africa, Pulse reached more than 42 million followers across its online platforms and social media channels.

Global Marketplaces

Despite the economic headwinds in most markets, the Global Marketplaces division had another successful year. The leading digital marketplace platforms in their respective countries in the areas of jobs, real estate, cars, general marketplaces and ticketing made a significant contribution to the increase in Ringier’s digital revenues in 2023.

National Marketplaces

JobCloud is the Swiss market leader in digital recruitment. The redesign of the product packages and the improvement of the product offering led to excellent sales in 2023, especially in the French-speaking part of the country.

The SMG Swiss Marketplace Group with ImmoScout24, Homegate, AutoScout24, Ricardo, tutti.ch and other platforms achieved a significant EBITDA result in 2023 and substantially increased its EBITDA margin compared to the previous year.

The entertainment industry is flourishing in the post-pandemic environment. Confidence in Switzerland`s leading ticketing provider has increased once again. Ticketcorner can look back on a successful 2023, with around 11 million tickets sold for around 16,000 events.

International Marketplaces

Hungary’s leading job platform Profession.hu, continued to deliver strong results, achieving year-on-year revenue growth in a difficult economic environment.

In the Baltic States, the leading job board CV Keskus also faced challenging conditions, as the number of job postings declined significantly in all three markets (Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia). Despite these challenges, CV Keskus successfully continued to optimize its commercial activities by revising its product and price offering, while at the same time achieving record application figures.

eJobs, Romania’s leading digital job board, successfully held its own in the challenging recruitment market, receiving 11 million applications through its platform.

Romania’s economic challenges led to a lower number of real estate transactions in 2023. Nevertheless, the market-leading PropTech platform Imobiliare.ro exceeded its financial targets by 23% year-on-year.

Sports Media 

Since its foundation in 2022, Ringier Sports Media Group (RSMG) has established itself as a dynamic force in the European digital sports media industry. The goal of becoming a relevant player in Europe by consolidating the leading digital sports media brands has been driven forward by numerous strategic measures.

For example, RSMG expanded into Greece in 2023 with the founding of the new platform sportal.gr. In Portugal, RSMG acquired the long-established sports media company and iconic brand A Bola. In Romania, RSMG focussed on implementing the digital-first strategy at GSP.ro, which led to new record figures. A joint venture with the DPG Media Group in the  Netherlands will further develop Sportnieuws.nl.

RSMG now runs eight leading sports media platforms in eight European countries and also holds a strategic position in the globally active LiveScore Group. With technologies such as the Sportal365 CMS, RSMG delivers content including analysis, expert opinion and exclusive interviews to more than 25 million sports fans every month. In December, RSMG also acquired the remaining shares in sport.sk in Slovakia from its previous partner NIKÉ.

Tech & Data 

Ringier has created fundamental operational structures for the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 2023 in order to leverage its transformative effect in the areas of media, sports media and digital marketplaces: Ringier was one of the first media companies in the world to introduce group-wide AI guidelines and set up an operational AI Board and an AI Advisory Board made up of international experts.

In addition, Petra Ehmann was appointed Chief Innovation and AI Officer of Ringier AG to coordinate the integration of AI into business processes – a key objective, as AI is seen as a crucial component for the creation, distribution and monetization of digital content and services. The introduction of specific, business-unit-related AI applications will be guided by the “Ringier AI Playbook”. This defines key processes and supporting initiatives in areas such as strategy, product development, legal aspects, innovation management, technology and human resources development.

The focus on AI, including the collaboration with Google Cloud to create a Blick chatbot, is seen as an investment in the future, enhancing existing offerings and creating new opportunities for user interaction and engagement.

Ringier chooses Palantir to implement AI for optimal use of data

As part of a five-year partnership, Palantir Technologies Inc. will provide Ringier with its Artificial Intelligence Platform (AIP) to drive the AI strategy for the group’s three strategic areas – Media, Marketplaces, and Sports Media – internationally and work with the latest and most responsible AI technology.

Palantir launched its AIP platform in April 2023. It provides Ringier with an effective solution for developing and implementing AI-based applications. By integrating and processing large amounts of data, AIP helps Ringier to improve relevant content and better understand user preferences.

AIP enables precise targeting and optimization of advertising strategies by analyzing reader trends and preferences. The platform’s scalability allows for the rapid transition from prototype to fully operational AI-based application, which is particularly beneficial in dynamic media environments.

AIP also ensures compliance with the highest privacy standards, which is essential when handling sensitive information. By fostering collaboration across its Media, Sports Media, Marketplaces, and Tech & Data teams, AIP will enable Ringier to develop innovative AI-based solutions that will help Ringier remain a leader in a highly competitive market.

The partnership between Palantir and Ringier has been in place since 2018. This partnership was extended in 2021 to use the Palantir´s Foundry software to help drive Ringier’s digital transformation and accelerate its transition to a data-focused, global media company. Ringier is adopting Foundry, and now AIP,  not only in its newsrooms, but also to improve the performance of its Media and Marketplaces brands in advertising.

“The media industry will only continue to be transformed by the significant advances made in artificial intelligence,” said Alex Karp, co-founder and chief executive officer of Palantir Technologies Inc. “We could not be more enthusiastic to extend our partnership with Ringier, whose ambitious and responsible implementation of software across its enterprise sets the company apart.”

ESG Report 

As part of its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) program, Ringier is publishing its first ESG report. ESG factors have long been a focus of attention and have been the subject of initiatives within the company since the early 1990s. The report provides an overview of the most important ESG activities of Ringier AG and will be integrated as a separate section in the Annual Report 2023.

AA Bronson designs the 27th Ringier Art Annual Report

The Ringier Annual Report 2023 was designed by AA Bronson (*1946 as Michael Tims). He was a member of the artist collective General Idea, president and director of Printed Matter, Inc. and founded the NY Art Book Fair and the LA Art Book Fair.

For the Ringier Annual Report 2023, AA Bronson was inspired by the  “FILE Megazine” – a provocative, polarizing reworking of LIFE magazine published by General Idea from 1972-1989. The “FILE Megazine” was situated between fact and fiction and was populated with works by General Idea as well as with the artistic ideas of the time, which were fed in through an international network. In the spirit of the communes of the 1960s, Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson developed their own form of collective creation: “Three heads are better than one (…), we are one”. And they became trendsetters – not only for the way we work today.

In 1968, Michael Tims found seven round mirrors in an army store in Toronto that have remained with him to this day, marking the beginning of his new artistic identity as AA Bronson. He describes their significance as follows: “They were a kind of seal, protecting my new identity, and whenever I needed them, I would place them on my bedroom floor, a mirror surrounded by a circle of six, or maybe as a pentagram, usually late at night.” The Ringier Annual Report 2023 presents works by the artist collective General Idea as well as solo works by AA Bronson spanning a period of more than five decades that focus on the mirror and reflection.

Publisher Michael Ringier: “The fact that media is constantly changing was once again evident last year. Artificial intelligence found its way into our everyday lives at an incredible pace. At the same time, the economic environment was challenging. I am impressed that our employees and management were able to master both challenges. On the one hand, innovative AI solutions were successfully implemented within the company in a very short space of time, and on the other, a good result was achieved despite the difficult economic environment. On behalf of the shareholders and the Board of Directors, I would like to thank them for their outstanding commitment. In the midst of all this change, it is sometimes worth pausing to take a look in the mirror. In the Ringier Art Annual Report 2023,  AA Bronson has done just that, taking a retrospective look at the theme of reflection – including some provocative works.”

Video of the Ringier Annual Art Report.

Digital version of the Ringier annual report:
The Ringier Annual Report 2023 is available for download as a PDF in German, English and French here.