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Le Monde

French newspaper grows international audience

Le Monde harnesses AI translation to launch an English-language edition, boosting readership and engagement worldwide.

Localizing and translating content for international readers

Founded in 1944, Le Monde is the most widely read newspaper in France, earning themselves a global reputation – and a global audience. As such, international expansion became a key growth factor for the brand as they sought to better address readers beyond their borders.

The publisher began with Le Monde Afrique in 2015, creating local content and adapting their strategy to engage Africa’s francophone population. “One may think that the news is the news anywhere in the world, but that’s not the case,” says Arnaud Aubron, Le Monde’s director of development. “The way that we consume news, the way that we see and think, is really localized.”

To further broaden their audience, Le Monde decided to tackle the English-speaking world next. Beyond building out locally relevant content, however, was the challenge of translation, which is both expensive and time-consuming. So, they turned to Google News Initiative (GNI) to launch an English-language edition with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).

Portrait Arnaud
“We had a lot of discussions with our counterparts at GNI in the initial phases and benefited from their experience in international markets and from the network effect.”
Arnaud Aubron
Director of Development, Le Monde

Launching the AI-powered English edition of Le Monde

Le Monde began working with GNI in 2021 to draw up initial plans and set KPIs for Le Monde in English. “GNI had a 360 vision because they have monitored trends and established so many partnerships with publishers around the world, so we benefited from that experience,” says Aubron. “The project was so successful from the beginning because the objectives were rational, and everything at the end of the day made sense.”

Le Monde in English launched in April 2022. The project involved building a dedicated website to host English content, enlisting English-speaking customer care representatives, and updating their subscription system to accept foreign payments. But the “secret sauce,” Aubron says, is the AI that allows them to translate their French content efficiently, after which point editors check the translation for accuracy. “The positive news about this project is that AI can benefit the news industry. We’re not naysayers. At the end of the day, we would never have been able to launch this project without new AI technologies.”

Today, Le Monde in English translates around 34 percent of their French articles and supplements their content with stories from English-language newswires. The site sees approximately 4 million visits per month, making up about 10 percent of Le Monde’s international visits.

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All around the world, news publishers are innovating ways to engage their audiences. From digital distribution and subscriptions to real-time analytics and AI, to delivering what readers want and giving readers a voice, they are using technology to reimagine the news — growing revenue and keeping journalism going strong. Their insights might inspire your own next big News Idea.

  • 36% of U.S. visits from English edition
  • 4 million visits per month
  • 34% of French content translated to English

Moving from product development to growth

Now that Le Monde in English is successfully up and running, the publisher can turn their attention from product development to growth, just in time for the U.S. presidential election and the Summer Olympics in France. They hope to continue the successful marketing cross-promotion they’ve engaged in over the past two years with The New York Times, as they pursue efforts to reach new audiences.

On the editorial side, Le Monde in English Editor-in-Chief Elvire Camus hopes to translate more content into English over time, including videos, social media, and interactive features. “We have very strong newsroom teams who [produce multimedia], and we really want to extend that to our international audience,” she says.

The success of Le Monde in English has the publisher considering their global potential, with hopes to launch new editions at some point in the future. “I see Le Monde becoming a global media company, at least for the most commonly spoken languages,” says Aubron.

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