Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

April 04 2013

12:47

September 16 2011

18:17

What's the Best Business Model for Metro Newspapers?

Metro daily newspapers have been in a long rut in the United States, with many retrenching, closing or flailing for a new digital business model while cutting editorial staff to the bone. Many papers are watching the pay walls at places like NYTimes.com, and the new launch of the pay site, BostonGlobe.com. And what about newspapers like the Guardian in the U.K. that have kept content free, and pushed for an even bigger global audience?

What's the right mix of free and paid content for metro newspapers? Answer our poll, and share your thoughts in the comments below.


What's the best business model for metro newspapers?

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

May 27 2011

18:00

Checking in with the Newport Daily News: Two years after a digital paywall, print is still king

Newport Daily News logo

The Newport (R.I.) Daily News might have been ahead of its time in offering the Frank Rich discount: The newspaper charges a hefty premium for digital-only access in hopes of boosting print subscriptions.

Two years have passed since the Daily News introduced a three-tiered paywall. At the time, executive editor Sheila Mullowney described the move not as a push toward digital, but as the opposite: a “print-newspaper-first strategy.”

That remains the case today.

“The print product is the thing really driving us at this point,” William Lucey, the Daily News’ publisher, told me. “As far the Internet goes, it really has not amounted to a hill of beans yet from a financial point of view.”

That sentiment is borne out in the Columbia Journalism School’s recent report on the business of digital journalism, which digs into the data:

The paper’s site, newportdailynews.com, gets around 80,000 visitors a month. Especially with online ad rates “dropping 20 percent a year,” that’s not enough to sustain the operation, which includes a newsroom of 22 people, Lucey says. Indeed, online ad revenue accounts for only 2 to 3 percent of total advertising for the paper.

After the change was put into effect, “our single-copy sales went up about 300 a day” — a bit less than 10 percent of overall single-copy sales. As the economy improves, “print is coming back. February [2011] was up 35 percent over last year” in ad sales.

As the Daily News has tweaked its price, it has preserved the print-first ethos. Earlier this year, the paper dropped its print+digital subscription price from $245 a year to $157 — a dollar more than the print-only price. A digital-only subscription, on the other hand, costs $345 a year.

The A.H. Belo-owned Providence Journal, the Daily News’ larger rival, has since announced its own paywall, expected to launch in the second half of 2011. Readers of that paper will have to pay for “original and proprietary content.”

It will be interesting to see whether the ProJo’s wall affects the Daily News. Last month I posed a far-flung hypothetical: Would readers pay for news if there were no free alternatives? In Slovakia, nine media companies are experimenting with a unified paywall — pay once for access to all — in an effort to reset years consumer assumptions about free content.

Rhode Island would seem to be (to an extent) a Slovakian analog in the United States. It’s a small, relatively uncompetitive, relatively isolated media market. Take Aquidneck Island (which is officially named, confusingly, Rhode Island), home to the 12,000-circulation Daily News. There’s some competition, sure: An ad-supported blog called Newport Now launched three months after the News’ paywall rose. And a year later, AOL’s Patch made its made its foray into Rhode Island with sites in Newport, Portsmouth, and Middletown — the whole of Aquidneck.

Still, once the ProJo paywall launches, we’ll have an interesting case study: If the only two papers covering Aquidneck are charging for access (and the ProJo hardly covers it like it used to) will citizens be more inclined to pay for online news?

The other question might be: Will that matter? In a piece examining “the uncertain future” of Rhode Island’s journalism scene, media critic David Scharfenberg described the dearth of social networking initiatives, inter-outlet collaboration, and other badges of innovation among the state’s media outlets. “What’s troubling about the Rhode Island mediascape,” he wrote, “is how slowly the players have moved to embrace this project — in an era when speed is nothing less than a matter of survival.”

But it could be that survival is a matter of sticking to roots, not branching out. If you view small newspaper publishing as a business, which it is, there’s still money in print. And it’s not as if the web has suddenly created a global audience for local news about Woonsocket, R.I. (No offense to Woonsocket, “a city on the move!”) Paywall or no paywall, the Daily News’ financial worth may lie in atoms, not bits.

And little Aquidneck Island not alone in that. “There still is value in print, no doubt about that,” the general manager of The Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune, has said. ”We shouldn’t be apologetic about it, we shouldn’t be embarrassed by it.”

April 01 2011

18:00

“Trimming the Times”: The Atlantic Wire’s new feature wants you to make the most of your 20 clicks

Add another entry into the growing group of New York Times meter-beating strategies: The Atlantic Wire is now providing a daily summary of the best content in the paper. “Now that the New York Times pay wall is live, you only get 20 free clicks a month,” Adam Martin notes in his introduction to the new feature. “For those worried about hitting their limit, we’re taking a look through the paper each morning to find the stories that can make your clicks count.”

“Trimming the Times” isn’t — per its framing, at least — about gaming the Times’ meter, per se; it’s about helping readers navigate stories within an ecosystem that, to some extent, punishes aimless exploration. The inaugural edition of the feature is 400 words and change, with short graphs pointing to stories on the NYT’s front page and its various sections: Global, U.S., Business, Technology, Health, Sports, Opinion, and Arts.

So, essentially, The Atlantic Wire is curating and then summarizing the information the Times has curated and then summarized. Meta! (Double-meta!)

Here’s how Trimming sums up today’s front page:

Leading today’s paper: A report on the fallout of all those defections on the Libyan government, news that the U.S. will likely not arm the rebels there, and a House of Representatives committee is shocked, shocked! at the high salaries of officials at government-backed lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Our top pick for today: Mad Men is saved!

First, it should be said, Trimming’s wise selection of the salvation of Mad Men as the day’s top story demonstrates the supremity of its editorial judgment. It also, however, suggests Trimming’s emphasis on curation (service!) over pure aggregation (menace?) — think Today’s Papers, with only one Paper. Introductions of stories with notes like “a worthwhile report,” “you’ll want to read how,” “we’re fascinated by,” and the like add an editorial sensibility to the thing that makes the feature less like a simple repurposing of the NYT and more like a tribute to it.

Trimming’s a neat idea — a reminder of the editorial and business opportunities that a paywall at one outlet can represent for the others. It also suggests the cross-platform layering of editorial content that’s increasingly defining the news space: Single stories spread across outlets, their look and their length — though not necessarily their core information — changing in the stretch. And the value of this kind of meta-curated feature is, it’s worth noting, largely independent of the Times’ paywall. Though the meter thing makes for a nice hook — and though it adds a service-y and slightly cheeky element to Trimming as a feature — a cogent summary of the best content in the nation’s paper of record is a useful thing as a general rule, meter or no.

Still, though, it’ll be interesting to see whether monthly meter patterns affect monthly traffic for The Atlantic Wire’s newest feature. Today being the first of the month, users’ article-view meters, as of early this morning, have been rolled back to zero. Human nature being what it is, the budgeting mindset — the voice of reason that reminds you to use your clicks wisely — probably won’t kick in until at least Article 10 or 15 (or, more realistically, 19). But Trimming wants to be the superego to your web-wandering Id. “It’s the first of the month so your clicks have reset,” Martin acknowledges. But: “You still must budget.”

Image by James Bowe used under a Creative Commons license.

March 31 2011

23:54

Goodbye, NYTClean, hello new name? A Canadian coder gets a letter from the NYT’s legal department

Remember David Hayes, the Canadian coder who, when confronted with the new New York Times paywall, figured out a way to evade it with four lines of JavaScript? (Technically, only three lines of code and one line of comment.) We wrote about it at the time as part of our coverage of the paywall.

Well, according to David’s blog, the Times has reached out to him in the form of an email from its legal team asking him to stop offering his JavaScript bookmarklet under the name NYTClean. But that’s the interesting part: The Times’ only stated complaint is the name of the bookmarklet, not its existence.

Here’s the text of the email, according to David’s blog post:

I am writing concerning your “NYTClean” bookmarklet, posted at http://euri.ca/2011/03/21/get-around-new-york-times-20-article-limit/.

As you obviously know, The New York Times Company has used its ‘The New York Times’ trademark since at least as early as 1851 and today offers numerous products and services under its famous ‘The New York Times’ trademark, including its online version of The New York Times at the URL NYTimes.com, and various blogs and electronic media products. NYTCo’s NYTimes.com website receives over 15,000,000 unique visitors each month. NYTCo owns numerous registrations for its ‘The New York Times’ trademark in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Canadian Trade-Marks Office and these trademarks are among the company’s most valuable assets.

We object to your use of our famous “NYT” trademark in connection with your application and your promotion thereof, which constitutes trademark dilution and trademark infringement under U.S. and Canadian trademark law.

Accordingly, we ask that you immediately cease use of the “NYT” trademark in connection with this application. This email is without prejudice to any action that may be necessary to protect the valuable rights of NYTCo in its intellectual property.

Very truly yours,

Rxxxxxx Sxxxxx
Senior Counsel
The New York Times Company
[Contact information followed]

The trademark claim follows on the Times’ similar request to Twitter regarding the @FreeNYTimes account’s use of a Times logo as its Twitter avatar. (The issue was apparently not, as was reported, with @FreeNYT, which is unrelated to @FreeNYTimes.) In both cases, the actual workaround wasn’t the issue — the use of a Times trademark is.

Now, of course, the NYT’s concern over its trademarks doesn’t limit its ability to come back later with another legal claim. But if any evasion method so far was going to prompt a Times claim under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention rules, NYTClean was a prime candidate. Those rules place limits on the use of tools to get around DRM, which in the right light the Times paywall could be considered. (To be clear, the Times has, to my knowledge, never mentioned the DMCA as a possible weapon against paywall jumpers. But the possibility has been a topic of conversation in the technology community.)

Here’s the DMCA language:

No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title…

…to “circumvent a technological measure” means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and a technological measure “effectively controls access to a work” if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work. [Emphasis mine.]

Invoking the DMCA would be breaking out the big guns, and would no doubt cause a backlash against the Times. Its attorney’s email shows no signs of such a claim, which fits well with the tone the Times has struck on potential paywall evaders since before the U.S. launch: that it will “continue to monitor the situation” but doesn’t plan to plug any of the many leaks in the wall.

Personally, I think the Times is taking the right approach here, since the actions of people who use JavaScript bookmarklets aren’t likely to have any impact on those of the Times’ readers who might actually pay. (Although NYTClean, unlike other evasion methods out there, leads the Times to serve a story page without ads. Even though that’s not something intentional in Hayes’ code, it’s still obviously suboptimal for the paper.)

For his part, David Hayes says he plans to comply with the Times’ request and rename the script to something like NYNewspaperClean. But he also says the Times missed an opportunity:

I’m a big fan of the newspaper in question; I would’ve taken the page down in exchange for a manila envelope with leftover detritus from Bill Safire‘s old desk

March 30 2011

18:30

So, then…if you jump The New York Times’ paywall, are you stealing?

James Poniewozik has a great column this week asking a question we’ve been talking about here at the Lab: Given all the ways to avoid paying for a New York Times digital subscription — ways that the Times has purposely built into the pores of its paywall, and ways that clever techies have figured out — is it immoral to jump the wall? To what extent, essentially, is gaming the Times also stealing from it?

As Poniewozik said: “Calling the Ethicist!” And, totally. But — we checked — current Ethicist Ariel Kaminer is also currently employed by the Times, and so is indisposed on meta-ethical grounds…and Randy Cohen politely declined my request for a comment. So, for a bit of amateur Ethicism — buckle your seatbelts, everyone! — here are a few points to add to Poniewozik’s.

A Times kind of person

Here’s how Martin Nisenholtz explained wall-jumping to Peter Kafka:

I think the majority of people are honest and care about great journalism and the New York Times. When you look at the research that we’ve done, tons of people actually say, “Jeez, we’ve felt sort of guilty getting this for free all these years. We actually want to step up and pay, because we know we’re supporting a valuable institution.” At the same time we want to make sure that we’re not being gamed, to the extent that we can be.

This “honest people” attitude — the presumption being that if you bypass the wall, you are not one of those people — is echoed by Nisenholtz’s colleagues. At a Paley Center breakfast last week, Arthur Sulzberger acknowledged that wall-jumping, by Times mandate and otherwise, would happen. But: “Is it going to be done by the kind of people who buy the quality news and opinion of the New York Times? We don’t think so.” (And also: “It’ll be mostly high school kids and people out of work.” And also! “Just as if you run down Sixth Avenue right now and you pass a newsstand and grab the paper and keep running you can actually get the Times free.”)

It’s familiar logic — the same kind of analog-economics-for-digital-content thinking that fuels all those “People! Don’t you realize that X months of The New York Times is just X Starbucks lattes?” comments. What it overlooks, though, is the very real possibility that, not just physically but economically, atoms have different properties than bits. Whether bits-based products involve different ethical considerations than their atoms-based counterparts is an open question — and, in fact, the question. But it’s one the Times is begging — and possibly forcing — with the ethiconomical (to coin a horrible, sorry, but possibly useful term) logic of its wall. The paper’s public establishment of a certain “kind of people” — a class who not only read the Times, but pay for it — is interesting for several reasons, one of them being its suggestion that there is also a “kind of people” (potentially adolescent, probably unemployed, and possibly morally bankrupt) who wouldn’t pay but would still consume Times content beyond the newspaper’s stated bounds.

But how fair, really, is that suggestion? Is deleting cookies or URL characters from a web browser directly akin to stealing a physical product from a newsstand? (And, then, is ad-blocking software immoral? Is reading Times content, for free, on someone else’s computer?)

Don’t steal steaks

In the physical world, property and the ethics surrounding it are straightforward things: Basically, do not take something for which you are being asked to pay money. There is a necessary lack of nuance in this: Even if that something is free somewhere — anywhere, everywhere — else, and even if the price being asked for it is ridiculous, if the something’s owner asks for money in exchange for it, your choice as a consumer is pretty much either to pay up or shut up. As CJR’s Lauren Kirchner put it, discussing Stewart Brand’s intersection with paid content, “No one would say ‘groceries want to be free’ and use that as an excuse to steal steaks. Or I guess some people might, but those people would be jerks, and also criminals.”

Definitely. But, then, the obvious obviousness of Don’t Steal Steaks is also contingent and contextual; it’s based on the fact that steaks are things. The ethical boundaries we take for granted in the physical world of commerce are generally based on actual boundaries: spacial distinctions that define ownership, separating permission from perfidy. So you can cart that steak all around Safeway if you want — but you won’t get arrested unless you take the steak outside without paying for it. As a matter of cultural consensus, in the context of the grocery store — and in the context of the grocery store’s analogs — it is the space itself, the “in” versus the “out,” that defines the acceptable against the un-. And it is the universality of that definition — the fact that it applies to and is known by pretty much everyone, pretty much implicitly — that makes “don’t steal steaks” so obvious. In it, the ethical and cultural and legal coalesce into one easy mandate.

But online, where space is as infinite as the human capacity to create it — and where your consumption of a Times article doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t get to read it — the conveniently clear line between moral acceptability and moral depravity no longer holds. There’s no obvious “inside”; there’s no obvious “outside.” And the web’s broad wall-lessness, ironically, enforces a barrier between “obtaining” something and “owning” it. In a digital environment where so much is accessible and so little is own-able, what exactly — ethically, legally, pragmatically — is yours? And what, exactly, is mine?

Owning atoms, owning bits

These are legal issues that are being wrestled with every day — and by, you know, actual experts. But, for our purposes, it’s worth noting the broad cultural context in which the Times wall has been erected. The Internet, after all, is still young (in terms of widespread adoption, it’s just a tad older than one of Sulzberger’s high school kids), and so are the communal values that help us navigate it. The web’s “wild west” element — its newness, its rawness, its up-from-nothing-ness — also suggests its lawlessness. Legally and culturally. We simply haven’t had time yet, in this bizarre new environment we find ourselves in, to reach consensus about what’s stealing and what’s not, about what’s owned and what’s not. We’re figuring it out, sure, day by day. But the offline ethical assumptions whose convenience and communality we take for granted are also, it’s worth remembering, the products of centuries’ worth of friction. Consensus takes time.

The Times is part of a long continuum in attempting to graft the ethical assumptions of the physical world onto the economy of the digital. The iTunes Store, for example — the platform whose essential genius was that made it easier for people to pay for digital content than to pirate it — framed its introduction in vaguely ethical terms, as well. (As Steve Jobs said at the time: “Consumers don’t want to be treated like criminals and artists don’t want their valuable work stolen. The iTunes Music Store offers a groundbreaking solution for both.”)

But what makes the Times’ paywall pitch so interesting is that it’s less about the interplay between ethics, economics, and convenience, and more about the interplay between ethics, economics, and the communal good. Essentially, the paper is trying to define the communal good as an economic good that is — boldness! — implicit in its product. (This is the logic that merges Times journalists being kidnapped in Libya with “the Times should be paid for.” Which is implying something, actually, fairly revolutionary: that the practice of journalism is, economically, part of the product of journalism.) That’s not simply a matter of the NPRization of the NYT (although that’s one element of it); more interestingly, I think, it’s a matter of the commodity of news collapsing into the creation of news. You’re not paying for the thing, the Times is saying; you’re paying for the process that creates the thing.

Image by like oh so zen used under a Creative Commons license.

March 25 2011

17:30

Mediatwits #2: AT&T Buys T-Mobile; 'Tweets from Tahrir' Authors

Welcome to the second episode of "The Mediatwits," the new revamped longer form weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift's Mark Glaser along with PaidContent founder Rafat Ali. This week's show looks at the repercussions of the $39 billion buyout of T-Mobile USA by AT&T. Rafat has had both services and will stick by AT&T, but Mark is making the move from AT&T to Verizon. Plus, Nadia Idle and Alex Nunns, the authors of the book Tweets from Tahrir, were special guests on the show, explaining how they got their book to print so fast. Finally, MediaShift poll results showed that nearly 90% of respondents would not pay for NYTimes.com content at the current high prices.

mediatwits2.mp3

Subscribe to the podcast here

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley. "iPhone Blues" by The Temps.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

AT&T buys T-Mobile

2:20: Mark sings the "iPhone Blues"

3:40: Rafat compares T-Mobile in L.A. to AT&T in NYC

5:50: Media companies will lose a big cell phone advertiser

7:20: Google makes deal to supply Sprint with Google Voice

10:20: Rafat will stick with AT&T

"Tweets from Tahrir"

Nadia Idle.jpg

13:10: Nadia Idle talks about her trip to Tahrir Square

17:45: Alex Nunns says they got permission from all tweeters to use their tweets in book

21:15: What's up with the @HosniMubarak feed?

24:30: Nadia will return to Egypt in May with books in hand

26:00: Mark and Rafat discuss print-on-demand aspect of the book

NYTimes.com pay wall

29:50: NY Times execs pooh-pooh people hacking the wall

33:50: MediaShift poll results on people paying for access to NYTimes.com

35:45: Rafat happy that companies are trying revenue models

More Reading

What does AT&T's T-Mobile merger mean to you? at News.com

Lawmaker: Make Net Neutrality A Condition Of AT&T/T-Mobile Merger at MediaPost

AT&T's Pitch for Free Mobile at WSJ

"Tweets from Tahrir" book from ORBooks.com

'Tweets From Tahrir' Collects Egypt Posts in a Book at NY Times Media Decoder

New York Times Paywall Breached With Four Lines of Code at PC Mag

A Note to Our Readers on the Times Pay Model and the Economics of Reporting at NY Times

Be sure to vote in the MediaShift poll about the AT&T/T-Mobile buyout:




AT&T + T-Mobile = _________?online survey

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

October 05 2010

10:42

TheMediaBriefing: What news publishers can learn from supermarkets

Patrick Smith maps out “the [Tesco] Clubcard model for news”:

To stretch analogy out to news, what’s for sale on your shelves? The kind of thing you think consumers are after, or what you know they want to buy? In a print age there is only hope and focus grouping: the call is made by the editor and publisher each day what goes into the paper both editorially and commercially, largely based on flimsy research and an instinctive understanding of a title’s brand.

Full post on TheMediaBriefing at this link…Similar Posts:



October 01 2010

11:21

Mail Online: Johnston Press chief rules out more paywalls

John Fry, head of Johnston Press, has ruled out future paywalls for JP’s newspaper websites, following the unsuccessful trial on selected sites late last year.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Fry says:

While a respectable number of users were prepared to pay, it wasn’t enough to offset the slump in ad revenues.

As Fry says: “With the internet it’s free and has been from the beginning. After 15 years of free it’s hard to change people’s habits.”

Apps and media mergers are more likely to help the regional press, he says.

Full interview on Mail Online at this link…Similar Posts:



10:36

Boston Globe joins New York Times in paywall plans

Not much of a surprise perhaps – the Boston Globe, also owned by the New York Times company, has announced plans for a new paywalled website in the second half of 2011.

The paid-for site BostonGlobe.com will feature news, features, photojournalism and full stories from the daily and Sunday editions of the paper; the current website Boston.com will remain as part of the subscription and registration model and will focus on sport, local news, arts and culture.

Full story on Media Decoder at this link…Similar Posts:



September 27 2010

19:05

How Aftonbladet Varies Paid Content with Clubs, Micropayments

While newspapers in the U.S. are struggling to find ways to fund online content, Aftonbladet, the most read newspaper in Sweden has been successfully charging for online content for several years. Here's a look at how paid content is working in Sweden.

Aftonbladet: Early to the Web

Aftonbladet, founded in 1830, is one of the biggest daily newspapers in the Nordic countries. The paper's content is a mixture of news, entertainment, sports and lifestyle. As a typical Scandinavian evening paper, Aftonbladet isn't as sensational or punchy as one might expect in a British or American tabloid.

Aftonbladet has a daily circulation of roughly 360,000 and a readership of over 1 million in a country of 9.3 million people. The print paper is sold daily for the equivalent of $1.30, and the paper does not offer subscriptions or home delivery for the print edition.

Its print circulation has been on the decline, but Aftonbladet's growing online readership is now up to 5 million unique visitors a week. Aftonbladet was the first Swedish newspaper to go online in the mid-'90s, the first to charge for online content, and the first to find success with this strategy.

Schibsted, a Norwegian media conglomerate, owns 91 percent of Aftonbladet. Schibsted has been very successful at monetizing online businesses, with one example being a Craigslist-style online classifieds business.

Paid Content: Plus Service

Aftonbladet uses a freemimum model for its online content strategy. Most of its content is free, including news and commentary. But readers are charged for the "Plus" service content, and they can pay for it using micropayments or by purchasing a subscription. A subscription costs about $4 per month (or $43 per year). The service started seven years ago and currently has 115,000 subscribers.

plus.png

The Plus service includes lifestyle material, such as over 200 different travel guides, health articles, and reviews of cars, gadgets and other products and services. There are also instructional guides for everything from buying an apartment to dieting or owning a pet. The paper also charges for select news stories, such as those that have to do with the Swedish Royal family.

The service's most popular content are the health articles, travel guides, the yearly lists regarding taxation in Sweden, and the reviews.

"One of the most read articles was about how to get a 'Fight Club' body, a very well trained body," said Elsa Falk, the product development manager at Aftonbladet. "When the article was published, we got many new subscribers."

Falk said the paper works to get the most out of its popular content by changing the angle and pictures on articles in order to keep them fresh, which enables them to reuse content.

Most of the content offered in the Plus service is produced by Aftonbladet's staff writers. The paper has created a special editorial group with four editors and one managing editor for its paid service. They select the material that ends up going behind the pay wall.

Experiments with Micropayments

Aftonbladet introduced the micropayment option for the Plus service earlier this year. With this in place, readers can pick any paid article they want and pay a one time fee for that piece of content.

"The total number of purchases increased since we launched micropayments, but sales of subscriptions decreased drastically," Falk said.

That's a notable loss for the paper because there is a lack of information of average revenue per user (ARPU) when it comes to micropayment users. That makes it hard to analyze the business. On the other hand, with the micropayment model, the paper gets to see what kind of stories people are willing to pay for individually.

As a result, Aftonbladet shifted the way it's using micropayments. One big change is that not every Plus service article is available for single purchase.

"We deliberate now carefully about which articles will be available only for Plus subscribers, and which ones are also available for micropayments," Falk said. "We also raised the price of content available for micropayments."

Clubs and Movies

aftonplus.png

While the Plus service is a big part of the paper's paid content strategy, it's by no means the only offering.

Aftonbladet also operates different membership clubs. Currently, its site has a weight loss club and an insomnia club. The weight loss club costs $70 per year or can be joined for about $10 to $15 a month.

The weight loss membership provides a program for dieting, and the insomnia club is, of course, aimed at helping people sleep better. Each club is run by experts in the respective field. The weight loss club has had brought in 380,000 subscribers since its launch in 2003. The Insomnia club just launched, so Falk said it's too early to share figures or declare it a success.

Aftonbladet also sells documentaries on a pay-per-view basis, and delivers this content in collaboration with producers such as National Geographic and BBC.

"You don't get rich on showing one documentary, but it is the long tail that matters here more," Falk said.

The paper has also made it a priority to release iPhone apps, and will be launching an iPad app as soon as the device arrives in Sweden.

"It is necessary to be present in all the platforms, and it is important not to be there only for free of charge," Falk said.

The Future: More Experimentation

Aftonbladet's online revenue is growing, and it currently accounts for between 10 and 12 percent of total revenue. One fifth of Aftonbladet's online revenue comes from paid content. And of all revenue generated by paid content, the journalistic content (such as articles, reviews and guides) accounts for 55 percent. Membership clubs bring in a bit more than one third of total paid content revenue, and the rest comes from selling books and products such as yoga mats and even vuvuzelas.

There are many factors that have contributed to the paper's online success. For example, Aftonbladet was smart enough to be an early mover on the web in Sweden, and that has resulted in it gaining a large, loyal audience. Aftonbladet has also done a good job creating a sense of uniqueness around its Plus service, and in offering a wide range of content. There is something for a sports fan or celebrity junkie, as well as useful content for anyone buying an apartment, trying to lose weight, or planning a trip.

Falk said the paper continues to experiment with its paid content offerings.

"There are interesting possibilities with 'Long Tail' e-commerce, for example," Falk said.

She said Aftonbladet hasn't really operated with a holistic strategy for paid content, but that the paper is now developing one.

"We are very much entrepreneurs here at Aftonbladet, and it has been good enough so far," Falk said. "Now we want to apply more strategic thinking in our plans."

Tanja Aitamurto is a journalist and a Ph.D. student studying collective intelligence in journalism. She has studied innovation journalism at Stanford, and has degrees in journalism, social sciences, and linguistics. Tanja advises media companies and non-profit organizations about the changes in the field of communication. As a journalist, she specializes in business and technology. She contributes mainly to the Huffington Post and to the Helsingin Sanomat, the leading daily newspaper in Finland, as well as to the Finnish Broadcasting Company. Tanja splits her time between San Francisco and Finland, her home country.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

September 17 2010

15:17

Some questions ahead of a News of the World paywall

News International’s announcement yesterday that the News of the World’s website will go behind a paywall wasn’t a complete surprise, given the same move by stablemates the Times and Sunday Times in July.

As yet there haven’t been any official figures released by NI about the traffic to its existing paywalled sites. There’s been plenty of speculation and unlike the News of the World’s website, the Times’ site was audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic up until February, when it posted 20,418,256 monthly unique users.

So many questions about the success or progress of the Times and Sunday Times paywalls remain unanswered, prompting more questions about Rupert Murdoch’s decision to add the News of the World site to the paid experiment.

  • Does NOTW.co.uk have a large enough audience already to sustain a switch to paid access?

It’s hard to find official stats for traffic to the existing NOTW website. Last October, the site said it had a record traffic day attracting 585,000 visitors from within the UK. For a record traffic month then, the site could attract around 17.5 million UK users. How likely to pay are non-UK users? Some breakdown of the Times and Sunday Times’ figures would be helpful again at this point…

  • In erecting the Times and Sunday Times paywalls News International’s line was all about protecting quality journalism by getting people to pay for it. The price point for NOTW.co.uk will be lower, but is its content enough?
  • No official figures for the Sun’s iPad app launched in June have yet been released and the Times’ iPad app has suffered some teething problems. At £1.19 for every four weeks, how many NOTW readers own iPads and vice versa, and is this price point too high?
  • Where does this leave the Sun?

Reports earlier this year suggested that by blocking crawlers from news aggregators from its site the Sun was gearing up for a paywall launch. Possibly, or possibly this can be put down to senior executive’s feelings towards search engines and aggregators.

  • How will a paywall affect print readership?

There are as yet no combined print and digital offers on the table from NOTW. According to the ABC’s figures for August 2010, the average net circulation for the print edition was 2,868,850 a day. Since the launch of its paywalled site the Times’ average daily net circulation has only decline slightly by 1.9 per cent – will the NOTW hold up in the same way?

And finally – it’s not just media reporters that are calling for more transparency and figures in the great paywall experiment. Advertisers and agencies want them too, according to this Bloomberg report:

Starcom MediaVest, which has placed ads for the Emirates airline and Continental Airlines Inc., has cut its advertising on the Times and Sunday Times by more than 50 per cent, Bailes [Chris Bailes, digital trading manager at Starcom MediaVest Group] said. News Corp’s international unit hasn’t communicated with media buyers about its online figures, he said.

“We wouldn’t put our money where we don’t know the numbers, just as you wouldn’t invest in a stock,” Bailes said.

Similar Posts:



11:05

Guardian staffer on paywalls: Unprofitable news businesses are ‘enfeebled and vulnerable’

Interesting response from Guardian staffer Stephen Moss to MediaGuardian blogger Roy Greenslade’s post on the News of the World’s plans for a paywall announced yesterday.

Greenslade argues that Rupert Murdoch is “indulging in information protectionism” and with the Times’ and Sunday Times’ paywalled websites has removed the titles from online conversations.

Moss responds in the comments:

Have the Times “dropped out of the national conversation”, whatever that absurdly woolly phrase means. There seems to have been huge discussion (e.g. on Twitter) about their Populus poll findings and Clegg’s incendiary piece on welfare in today’s paper, so they seem still to be absolutely in the ‘national conversation’.

And the fact remains that news orgs have to try to make some dosh. It’s not enough to say paywalls don’t work; you – and the industry – have to come up with a package that does work, which in my view will mean protecting certain print products, paywalling some (tho (sic) by no means all) online material and building networks around information-gathering interest groups which can be monetised by donation and/or through the sale of ancillary products and services. There is no one big answer; there are a range of answers which will add up to a profitable business. And a business that isn’t profitable – and this includes the Guardian – is enfeebled and vulnerable.

Full blog post and comments at this link…Similar Posts:



10:16

The Wall Blog: WPP working on paid content technology

Two subsidiaries of communications group WPP are working on a new paid content project, scheduled for launch early next year. Reports the Wall:

The idea behind the Content Project is that users pay a fixed fee each month, giving them an electronic wallet, to access a pool of content. The fee is then shared out between the media owners rather than paying one fee to a single company.

Full story on the Wall Blog at this link…Similar Posts:



August 18 2010

21:42

August 17 2010

09:04

Media Week: Times website loses 1.2m readers

Media Week reports on figures from ComScore, which suggest that unique users of the the Times and Sunday Times websites have fallen from 2.79 million in May to 1.61 million in July.

The new websites were launched on 25 May with compulsory registration introduced in June and the paywall for both sites going up on 2 July. According to the report, page views for the sites dropped from 29 million in May to 9 million in July.

Prior to the launch of the new websites, News International withdrew from the monthly Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic (ABCe) reports for newspaper website traffic.

Full story on Media Week at this link…Similar Posts:



August 04 2010

10:10

Murdoch hails iPad as ‘perfect platform’

Rupert Murdoch is bullish about the role that the iPad and tablet computers will play in the future of publishing and journalism. According to a report by the Australian, Murdoch told an industry event this week in Sydney that tablet computers were “a perfect platform for our content”.

Murdoch added that subscriber levels to the newly paywalled Times website were “strong”:

It’s going to be a success. Subscriber levels are strong. We are witnessing the start of a new business model for the internet. The argument that information wants to be free is only said by those who want it for free.

Full story on the Australian at this link…Similar Posts:



July 13 2010

09:53

David Mitchell breaks ranks to question Guardian paywall stance

As the Times and Sunday Times’ paywalls went up earlier this month, the Guardian welcomed a former Times blogger and readers to its website with some cheeky editorial.

The Times has done the same with columnists from the paper writing and blogging about their support for paid content. But interesting space on Comment is Free on Sunday was given over to some-time Guardian writer and comedian David Mitchell, who took the title’s strategy to task:

By implying that it thinks content should be free for moral reasons, the Guardian website is playing an extremely dangerous game. It’s an approach which not only makes it hypocritical to charge for the printed newspaper and the iPhone app, but also gives hostages to fortune: what if the Murdoch paywall, or some other “micropayment” system, starts to work? Are we to believe that the Guardian wouldn’t institute something similar? Or would it be happy to be reduced to the online equivalent of a freesheet?

Full post on Comment is Free at this link…Similar Posts:



July 10 2010

00:45

4 Minute Roundup: Time.com Restricts Access to Print Stories

news21 small.jpg

4MR is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

In this week's 4MR podcast I look at the move by Time.com to restrict access to its print stories online. Rather than set up a pay wall, Time shows abridged versions of print stories and asks you to subscribe to the print magazine or get its $5 iPad app edition instead. That has critics howling. I also talked with PaidContent co-editor Staci Kramer, who considers Time's strategy a "condom" between online visitors and the print magazine.

Check it out:

4mrbareaudio7910.mp3

>>> Subscribe to 4MR <<<

>>> Subscribe to 4MR via iTunes <<<

Listen to my entire interview with Staci Kramer:

kramer full.mp3

Background music is "What the World Needs" by the The Ukelele Hipster Kings via PodSafe Music Network.

Here are some links to related sites and stories mentioned in the podcast:

Time's big new paywall at Reuters

Time Magazine putting up a paywall to protect print? at Nieman Lab

Time Magazine Dons An Online Condom at PaidContent

Time magazine remains free online, but offers less content at SFNBlog

Time Takes a Step Away From Free Web Content at NY Times Media Decoder

In Which Time Inc. Rides on the Wall of Death One More Time at Newsweek

Time Magazine Walls Off Its Web Site: Will You Pay Up? at MediaMemo

Time Inc.'s Web Paywall, Explained at MediaMemo

Also, be sure to vote in our poll about which pay walls you think will succeed (if any):




Which pay wall has the best chance to succeed?survey software

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

news21 small.jpg

4MR is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

July 02 2010

08:31

The Times and Sunday Times: What a paywall looks like

And it’s up – the long awaited News International paywall for the new Times and Sunday Times websites has gone up today. This is the screen you get when you try to go beyond the sites’ homepages – thetimes.co.uk and sundaytimes.co.uk. It’s interesting to see what’s not included in the £1 day pass option: email bulletins, mobile access and daily puzzles.

What the web and world is saying about it:

Similar Posts:



Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl