I’ve been writing about presentations I watched at Digital Media Strategies 2014, including talks by Verdens Gang, Axel Springer and the New York Times. So apologies if publishing isn’t your thing.
But that’s sort of the joy of discussing media companies, how do they become more than mere old fashioned publishers. How do they find new streams of revenue and restructure so that subscriptions work and digital actually makes some money?
One of the spots at the aforementioned conference was CEO of the Financial Times, John Ridding having a fireside chat with Ken Doctor, President of Newsonomics.
Many interesting facts, figures and opinions were teased out, so I thought I’d round them up here.
Yesterday, the Telegraph announced the introduction of a 'metered paywall' which allows visitors to read up to 20 articles before having to subscribe for more.
There are two options: a 'web pack' which allows access to the website and content via apps at £1.99 per month, and a 'digital pack' which adds tablet access and loyalty club membership at £9.99 per month.
But can a paywall ever be a good idea for a general news site like The Telegraph though? And how will it affect the newspaper in terms of SEO and traffic to its ecommerce pages?
For many newspapers, the decision to erect a paywall has been a decision of last resort.
And for a seemingly good reason: despite the obvious need to generate the type of revenue that advertising often can't provide alone, asking the consumers of your content to pay for the privilege can be a difficult undertaking.
Can paid content save newspapers? For many newspapers, there is good reason to be skeptical.
But trying to get readers to pay for content is a necessary move and naturally, major dailies like The New York Times are having an easier go of it.
The New York Times is giving pay wall skeptics reason to reconsider their skepticism. Despite questions about the company's paywall strategy, the daily has managed to lure some 325,000 paying subscribers.
That's good news for a newspaper that some believed might not survive.
While many publishers in the West struggle to build profitable paywalls, I recently reported that a paywall in the East may provide a blueprint for success.
That paywall was erected in Slovakia by a company called Piano Media. It brought together nine of Slovakia's largest news publishers, and the early results are impressive given the size and characteristics of the Slovakian market.
Ask many consumers why they've stopped purchasing dead tree publications like newspapers, and chances are you'll hear comments like "the cost is too high."
Ask those same consumers what they expect when it comes to the digital/tablet versions of their newspapers of choice, and you'll probably learn that they expect the cost to be lower. And for good reason: there's no paper and ink to buy; the marginal cost of selling an issue of a newspaper on an iPad is pretty close to $0.
Despite the fact that many publishers have struggled to transform
ad-supported content into profit, many publishers have opted to keep
the ad-supported content, and forgo a paywall.
And there's a good reason why: it's entirely unclear to many publishers
whether a paywall will be profitable or not, and once a paywall goes
up, a publisher's audience will almost certainly drop. For many
publishers, ad-supported content and a large audience is still more
attractive than paid content and a smaller audience.
Rupert Murdoch's News International may still have a long way to go in convincing the world that it can succeed by putting its newspaper websites behind a paywall, but that doesn't mean that News International isn't confident that it will eventually succeed with the paywall model.
In a sign of its confidence, it is putting the website of the UK's top-selling Sunday newspaper, News of the World, behind the News International paywall in October.
A massive WTF moment interrupted my reading of The Observer's review of the paywall going up around the Times and Sunday Times.