Posts Tagged ‘new york times’

More than 100,000 sign up for NYT paywall: What does it mean?

April 25, 2011

Congratulations to the New York Times, which has signed up more than 100,000 people to its new online paywall, according to Ad Age. I said a few weeks ago that I don’t think the paywall will last. And if I’m wrong, I’m happy to eat my words. But don’t think these early numbers spell success. As Ad Age’s Nat Ives points out, the number is meaningless without knowing how these people signed up, whether they’re committed to renewal (or just capitalizing on a cheap intro offer) and how the wall has affected overall traffic and ad revenue. And as Bill Grueskin noted recently on paidcontent.org, early positive results have happened before:

This happened with TimesSelect, the two-year-and-out effort to get people to pay to read opinion columns. It launched in September 2005, and within less than two months the company had signed up around 120,000 newly paying subscribers.

That growth flattened quickly, though; by May 2006, it had only 170,000 subscribers (plus about 280,000 print subscribers who registered for free access to the service). The Times ended the project in September 2007 with 227,000 digital-only users, discerning that there was far more to gain from ad revenue than subscriptions.

Why I won’t pay for the New York Times

March 22, 2011

I’m not going to repeat the excellent analyses of the new NYT paywall already written by John Gruber and Khoi Vinh. Do click over and read them, though. This is about why I, personally, refuse to participate. Please feel free to agree/disagree/contribute in the comments.

1. Digital costs more than print (which includes digital)
A single thing should cost less than a single thing plus another thing, right? When you go shopping, you don’t pay less for the shirt and the pants than if you just bought the shirt. And remember, these are virtual pants – no one had to ship them anywhere. The lack of logic here astounds me, and reminds me of an argument that I unfortunately can’t recall the source of (maybe Mr. Magazine or Rex Hammock? Tell me if you know): why get high and mighty about the “value” of content now when we’ve been shilling it for cheap (and continue to do so) in the form of subscriptions for years?

The cheapest digital subscription works out to $3.75 a week. If I get the New York Times delivered to, um, zip code 90210 on weekdays, it’s $3.70 a week – and includes unlimited digital.

2. It’s too confusing
$15 for the website and smartphone app. $20 for the website and tablet app. $35 for all three. And these prices are for four-week periods, not for a month.

Don’t want the smartphone app? Well, you have to pay for it anyways. Use multiple computers (as most of us do)? The plan seems to offer access from unlimited devices (which begs the question, why not share a subscription with your friends?). Oh, and all that money? It doesn’t include the Crosswords app. And you can have access to 100 (but no more!) articles from the archives every four weeks. (Plus, hint? You don’t need the tablet app. Just read the website in Safari.)

3. The ads are still there
And I would expect them to be on the website. But on the smartphone app? I love the New York Times iPhone app – I use it a lot, especially as you can easily download articles to read them offline, such as on the subway or a plane – and I’ve long wished to be able to pay to get rid of the ad, as it takes up valuable reading space on such a small screen. (Plus, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything other than a house ad anyways. The iPhone ad is hardly helping with revenue problems.)

4. It’s too expensive
I want to support the New York Times – I really do. And I know it’s priced at the level of a weekly latte, and that the US dollar is even a bargain right now. But [cue deep movie narrator voice] in a world where most online content is free, and print content isn’t very expensive either – and with all the problems mentioned above – I don’t want to pay out of principle.

And I’m sure I’m not the only one. There are too many ways to get around the paywall, for starters. And too many paywall-free alternatives to read. Honestly? I don’t think this is going to last.

Quoted: ROI on Twitter

February 28, 2011

From eMedia Vitals:

Brian Stelter, a media reporter at the Times, uses Twitter to improve reporting and “hopefully to improve the reader’s relationship with the institution.” He added: “I like to think that every time I interact with a reader, they are 0.01% more likely to pay for the Times ― especially as we put up a paywall later in the winter or the spring ― maybe, just maybe, they are a little more willing to pay up.”

Do you agree?

The key to successful SEO

February 11, 2011

Google engineer Matt Cutts, in an article (related to the recent AOL acquisition of the Huffington Post) from the New York Times:

“One piece of advice I give to S.E.O. masters is, don’t chase after Google’s algorithm, chase after your best interpretation of what users want, because that’s what Google’s chasing after,” he said.

(Funny enough, I swear the NYT article had a more opaque title last night when I read it. They must have an overnight web editor web-ifying the titles.)

The power of your archives (and SEO)

October 12, 2010

On a recent Google search, a surprise came up in the results list: an article from the New York Times – from 1982.

It’s a good example of how powerful your archives can be when it comes to traffic-driving. One of the reasons sites like About.com come up in search results so often is the power of sheer quantity. They do coach their writers to write for SEO, and often even come up with topics based on search research, but at the end of the day, having a lot of articles on a lot of things can get you far.

What archives does your publication have that you could be putting online (preferably with SEO-friendly titles and URLs)? Are you making sure to put as much as possible online now – and negotiating with freelancers to get web rights for all content? What else could you be doing to increase quantity without sacrificing quality?

(By the way, pineapples apparently don’t ripen after they’re picked, which is really the answer I was looking for.)

How to make money online

July 12, 2009

The debate is still on (and for good reason) about how the media can make money with their online properties. Readership is certainly there, but display advertising isn’t bringing in enough revenue and most readers are unwilling to pay to read articles online. The New York Times is said to be about to charge a monthly fee of $5 for access, but whether the strategy will work is questionable. (They might suck me in, though – I’ve become extremely addicted to their excellent health section.)

The Guardian recently spoke with Chris Anderson of Wired on his thoughts on monetizing media websites. His ideal model, they write, is that we shouldn’t charge for everything, but for those things that people are really willing to pay for: “It’s not about whether to charge but choosing carefully which specialised content people will pay for and developing additional premium services.” Golf Digest, for example, is considering starting a branded club that will charge for membership in exchange for services, discounts or other premiums.

The million-dollar question, of course, is what will people pay for? Figure that out, price the model well, and you may just bring in profit from your brand in excess of advertising, using the “free” content on the website as a lure.

Too much social media, not enough time

September 23, 2008

Social media is going mainstream, and everyone wants a piece of it. But now that there are so many services available, it’s not just a matter of adding communities to people’s lives – they have enough to keep up with, says Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times. Which means there are two options: replace people’s existing tools with your own (which can be pretty difficult), or create tools that don’t require major shifts in behaviour.

It’s an important thing to think about if you’re considering adding social media or communities to your site. You’re not just competing with your traditional competing magazines’ sites – you’re competing with Facebook. So before you put in any major investment of time or money, think hard about what you can offer that no one else can. If it were you being asked to join this potential community, would it be worth your time?

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