Thursday, 28 October 2010

In Praise of the Times Paywall...

So a heading i was not expecting to write but i saw an interesting tweet from a very clever media observer analyst who i used to work (Peter Kirwan)with Latest Nielsen stats of the decline in the Times readership since paywall went up. Now a few caveats before i give some praise - the stats are not very robust, essentially estimates in many cases, we have no idea how many free trials, promotional access etc are included in numbers and have no real comprehension of revenue therefore derived. And critically as a significant recruitment advertiser on times/sundaytimes online - we have seen response absolutely hammered and have therefore moved spend towards competitors. The recruitment part of this was not so much mismanaged as not even taken into consideration and NI probably are still not that bothered by this.

Anyway....this was supposed to be blog to praise, so here goes

1. I thought the figs would be much much worse. only 43% decline to front page views, total of 362,000 uniques per month. My gut  detailed analysis told me that nobody would register, let alone pay for content that was pretty much freely available elsewhere (BBC, Guardian, Telegraph).
2. If a decent proportion of this number were paying even £1 or £2 a week - it makes it revenue positive i would think compared to ad revenue - CPM rates are showing no sign of inflation at present and CTRs remain low.
3. I firmly believe that  users cannot expect this stuff for free in future - i love free content, and consume it and never pay for anything but the business model of providing a high quality product, investing heavily and giving it away free, relying on ad revenue does not have any commercial future. So lets applaud attempt at a different business model rather than slam it for impertinence.
4. Anecdotally - i now buy the print Times semi regularly (2-3 times a week) as i cannot access the content elsewhere. I am now an officially ex Guardian/Telegraph reader, as i can view their content via Ipad, laptop, desktop which is me pretty much covered.

So in summary - it will be fascinating to see more robust stats and to see what will happen and what competitors will also do but i can assure you that if they do make a success of it - everyone will be very quickly changing their tune and you will see paywalls flying up everywhere (should insert pun on wall building here but cant bring myself to crow bar it in!)

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