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.