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#Podcast – Then and now: Two years of the New York Times paywall

March 28th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Paid-for content, Podcast

Just two days ago in the UK the Telegraph launched a metered paywall, which would require subscription once users exceed a 10 article allowance, following the introduction of the model for international-only traffic last year.

The Telegraph’s model was described as having a “New York Times-style ‘meter’”, and was launched in the same week as the New York Times’s paywall reaches two years in operation – two years today, in fact.

So in this week’s podcast we speak to general manager for core digital products at the New York Times Paul Smurl about how the environment in 2011 at launch differs to that today, when it comes to launching an online payment model. We also discuss the impact of the metered model on the rest of the industry with Robert Picard, director of research at the Reuters Institute and Tim Cain, head of research and insight at the Association of Online Publishers.

Interviewees:

  • Paul Smurl, general manager for core digital products, New York Times
  • Robert Picard, director of research at the Reuters Institute, at the University of Oxford
  • Tim Cain, head of research and insight, Association of Online Publishers

For more on the first two years of the New York Times paywall see this Journalism.co.uk feature, based on our interview with Paul Smurl.

You can hear future podcasts by signing up to the Journalism.co.uk iTunes podcast feed.

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Time Out: Chicago Tribune clocks up 22K digital signups in three days

The Chicago Tribune clocked up 22,000 digital signups over the weekend, following the launch of the redesigned website, according to Time Out Chicago’s media blog.

Tribune readers are being asked for their zip code and email address ahead of the title starting to charge for some premium content, including opinions and reviews, reports from the watchdog team and content from The Economist.

More than 22,000 readers had registered their details between 6pm on Thursday and Sunday morning, according to Time Out.

“That is far beyond our wildest dreams, especially with holiday traffic levels,” Bill Adee, vice president of digital media and operations, told Time Out’s Robert Feder.

Adee also confirmed that Bloomberg Business News soon would be added as part of the free content on the site. At some point in the future, those who’ve registered will have the option to pay for premium content, including material from the Tribune, the Economist and Forbes.

Details of the paywall plan will be determined by feedback from users, Adee said.

The Tribune’s digital membership page says those who opt to pay will get additional services.

We will be creating new apps, special events and e-books and other features that will be included in your digital membership.

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#MarketBriefing: How audience measurement has increased digital revenues for Incisive Media

B2B publisher Incisive Media’s improved understanding of analytics has resulted in an increase in digital revenue and profit over the past two years, according to Jon Bentley, head of online commercial development.

Bentley told a conference on ‘audience revenue tools for online publishers’ today that Incisive has achieved an average of 10.34 minutes “dwell time” on its “gated” paid subscription sites, when the average dwell time is  7.55 minutes, according to analysis by AOP.

So what does Incisive do differently?

It measures analytics closely, both for subscription sites and those which do not require readers to pay, Bentley explained. In an introduction to the event, Patrick Smith, editor and chief analyst of TheMediaBriefing.com had put forward this idea saying:

It’s only through the measurement and analytics that you realise who might pay and why they might pay.

Incisive uses Web Analytics and Google Analytics and is starting to talk to Scout Analytics. Bentley detailed what Incisive has done over the past two years to improve the understanding of the audience:

  • It has improved governance and reviewed all analytics.
  • Defined and re-defined the business needs. It has done this by talking to people within the publishing business.
  • Incisive re-wrote its tagging strategy, technically categorising content types.
  • Integrated digital and offline data, merging email and web databases.
  • Developed communications.
  • Set up regular reviews.

The monthly analytics review “clinics”, which feature those from the web, commercial and editorial teams sitting round a table, are “probably the most successful thing we’ve done”, Bentley added.

As well as looking at unique users, page impressions, visits, active email addresses, – which are “one of the most valuable indicators you have” – Incisive also focuses on the sell-through rate, which “is one of the key indicators for revenue”.

Bentley echoed Patrick Smith who said earlier that “the measure of success is no longer about reach”.

It matters but who readers are and what they do is just as important.

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#MarketBriefing: How the FT is measuring its shift to mobile

Multichannel analytics is key for the Financial Times, which is well known as a leader in understanding its audience and using the data to increase revenues.

The FT, which has 4.5 million registered users of its digital offering and 285,000 paying digital subscribers, has a team of 30 people focusing on web analytics, data and digital marketing for the title.

The digital subscriber base grew by 29 per cent last year, demonstrating how understanding the audience pays off.

Why audience analytics is key

Tom Betts, head of web anaytics as the FT, told today’s ‘audience revenue tools for online publishers’ conference how it has grown its subscriber base and used data to help “fuel” their shift to mobile.

One of the things the FT has been doing for the past two or three years, Betts said, is personalising the communications with readers based on the types of editorial content they are are interested in.

The FT looks at customer DNA, at how much of each type of content, such as “markets”, “world”, “personal finance”, they read.

The FT can then tailor newsletters “to personalise the experience that people have with us”, Betts explained.

How mobile alters the digital landscape

But simply looking at digital analytics is not enough. Platform-specific data can give a better picture of the individual.

For example, Betts explained how if a reader has not read “weekend” or “personal finance” content online, it might be that they read it on a tablet or mobile when they are at home.

Mobile is altering the way our customers read our content.

And this information can turn into revenue. At least 20 per cent of new FT subscriptions comes from behaviour-driven data marketing, Betts said.

He also said it is essential to understand whether if people are engaging across platforms.

“Are the platforms generating a new audience or are we just moving the audience from one platform to another?” Betts asks the data, as that will dictate how much it is worth investing in digital offerings for different devices.

The FT famously created a web app in order to have a direct relationship with the customer, which it was not able to do with its previous iOS native iPad app.

As well as providing data from the web app and bypassing Apple’s 30 per cent levy, the technology behind the app also makes “deployment easier”, Betts said.

“HTML5 makes deployment easier” as the “core remains the same with different wrap-arounds” overlaid for the Android and Windows 8 native apps.

And looking at the data demonstrating when the various devices are used is also beneficial.

Betts demonstrated with a graph to show the main smartphone and tablet usage peaks at breakfast, with another rise in the evening.

Existing subscribers are not just reading during the business day.

They therefore get better value of their subscriptions and less likely to cancel.

Update: This post initially quoted Tom Betts as saying “everything we’ve done that has been successful at the FT has been related to data”. The FT would like to clarify that Betts was referring to the fact that “the intelligent use of data has been a significant driver of our commercial success”.

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#MarketBriefing: ’80% of digital revenue comes from your loyal audience’

June 20th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Paid-for content

Eighty per cent of a typical news site’s digital revenue comes from their loyal, returning audience, those the publisher has an email addresses for, with 20 per cent of revenues coming from flyby users.

But 80 per cent of traffic comes from the flybys who generate the minority of the revenue.

The statistics, which are unlikely to come as a great surprise to many publishers, were shared at today’s ‘audience revenue tools for online publishers’ conference by Matt Shanahan, SVP strategy for Scout Analytics, one of the data tools discussed at the event.

Shanahan talked of the positives and negatives of revenues from print versus digital.

He said the main difference is that print is based on “distribution” whereas in digital, publishers get paid for “usage”.

Outlining the negatives of shifting to digital, Shanahan said publishers can expect “to chop in half” revenues. Meanwhile, there is a need to sell more ads, he said.

One of the many positives, Shanahan said, is that with analytics “you know what people are reading”.

Shanahan therefore encourages publishers to focus on analytics and to segment the audience by revenue. Scout Analytics calls it “revenue-weighted behavioural segmentation”.

A publisher should:

  • Look at what editorial is generating the most ad revenue
  • Ask ‘can readers be converted to subscribers?’
  • Look at what usage profiles have most event revenue potential
  • Look at audience development and what sources have the highest lifetime value

He says those who dig into the data in this way can “grow revenues by 200 to 500 per cent”.

“An anonymous audience is an anchor,” Shanahan said, explaining the value that comes when a publisher has an email address for a reader.

He showed statistics to demonstrate how a registered audience will “always be much smaller in number” but showed how they generate far more revenue for the publisher.

Shanahan said that “even if you have a registered user it doesn’t mean they come everyday”. But if you have their email address, you still get to market to them.

And loyal readers have the same conversion rate as those who do visit the site every day, he said, when marketing daily deals by email, for example.

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Economist seeks to build relationships with 1m Facebook fans

The Economist has today announced that it has clocked up one million fans on Facebook.

The fans come from 180 countries, with the largest number living in the United States, followed by India, the UK, Pakistan and Canada, the Economist states in a release.

Last week Nick Blunden, global publisher, digital editions told the Guardian’s Changing Media Summit that “people want to belong and we can monetize that”.

It’s about building relationships on Facebook and monetizing outside.

On the subject of charging for access to content, he said that people will pay for the experience of “being informed”.

Today’s release states:

The Facebook community regularly discusses, debates, comments and share posts, with those regarding world leaders and international events generating the most responses. One of the most popular posts of all time focused on the Economist’s 2009 “The Man Who Screwed An Entire Country” cover and received over 130,000 likes in just a few days.

The Economist states that it “reaches over 3.5 million people through all of its social media properties, including 2.1 million individuals on Twitter and 400,000 users on Google+” and a “growing global circulation” (now 1.5 million including both print and digital), according to figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation.

The news outlet is now asking readers how they consume the title’s content.

To mark the milestone, the publication has asked its Facebook community to tell or show how they consume Economist content. Fans have been posting their experiences and photos, which include reading indoors, outdoors, by the pool, floating in the dead sea, on tablets and even reading in diapers for one young adopter, aged 13 months.

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Rusbridger: Guardian paywall ‘has not been ruled out’

March 25th, 2012 | 7 Comments | Posted by in Paid-for content

Part of a cartoon wall being created at the Guardian Open Weekend

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, today asked readers what they were prepared to give back to the news group in return for journalism: money, time or data.

The first option, to ask readers to pay for an online subscription, “has not been ruled out”, Rusbridger told a session called “what might the Guardian’s future look like?” at the Guardian Open Weekend.

He suggested readers could give their time, perhaps volunteering to work shifts when they would moderate comments from fellow readers, a suggestion that is perhaps equally as surprising and seemingly unlikely as the idea of the Guardian putting up a paywall.

The third option Rusbridger proposed was that readers share personal data, such as their postcode.

All three options aim to make or save money, helping to compensate for the “£40 million-a-year which walked out the door” with the rapid decline in newspaper advertising.

You have to work on the basis that [revenue] is never going to come back.

Rusbridger added:

There are huge opportunities for journalism but it’s going to be a period of intense change.

In the same session, Andrew Miller, CEO of Guardian Media Group, explained the group is focussing on brand building, saying sustainability via digital relies on far more than “banners and buttons”.

Miller said:

The newspaper is fantastic product but is one of many products that people use to consume news.

Miller commented on the revenue generated by the Guardian’s Facebook app, launched in September - which has been downloaded by eight million users in six months and which saw Facebook users read 19 million articles via the app last month – saying ”we only make a few hundred thousand pounds” via the app.

Earlier this week Journalism.co.uk reported that the Guardian app has generated more money than it cost to build.

Also speaking in the session was Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of the Guardian US operation who seven months ago “took the Guardian-ness and put it in America”.

She talked about how the “audience is growing substantially” in the US.

We are trying to make [the audience] feel they are part of the international army of Guardian readers.

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#ftmedia12: Jimmy Wales on the power of Wikipedia’s free access ethos

Giving the opening presentation at the Financial Times’ digital media conference in London today, the founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales discussed the power of the free access it offers for content on the site.

He said the “main original vision for Wikipedia” was based on the following quote:

Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.

He said by following the idea of free access from the beginning, the site, which currently reports around 65 million monthly visitors, saw “a huge amount of traffic”.

He outlined what Wikipedia sees as the most important part of what it does.

We aren’t just talking about cost. We’re talking about free as in speech, not free as in beer … It’s more fundamental than cost.

He added that the power of this “technique” of content dissemination for “growing online presences” is “still not fully understood”.

Wales said when Wikipedia started the mindset for many was “that in order to have successful content, you need unique content no one else had”, and then to erect a paywall or “vigorously pursue people copying content”.

He took the opposite route, with the only requirement being that users of the content have to follow the licence terms, usually meaning attribution to the source.

Lots of people made clone sites, or they would take an article and put in on a blog. It drove over time a huge amount of traffic.

He added that today this continues to be a “big factor” in the volume of links to Wikipedia and its ranking in search results.

When it comes to finding a business model for online content in general, he added that micropayments could be the way forward, in particular for newspapers online.

One of the things I’m very excited about is the rise of the app store, the app model. For the first time we have a very convenient method to pay relatively small amounts of money.

He added that payment for online content had “always been a barrier” in the past.

He said the ability to make an “impulse purchase” is “really important and going to have major impact when we think about content”.

Here are some of the interesting statistics Wales shared with the conference about Wikipedia 11 years on:

  • Over 20 million articles in 270 different languages
  • Over 3 million articles distributed in English
  • Around 150,000 articles in Arabic
  • Only two African languages available
  • The most popular category in English, Chinese and Japanese languages is popular culture

He added that we are now “in an era when the general public has a voice in a way they never had before”.

But he said there is also a “heavy” responsibility on Wikipedia and its community to “think about quality of Wikipedia”.

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Forbes: Gannett to introduce metered access for 80 newspaper websites

US newspaper publisher Gannett has announced it is planning to switch all of its 80 newspapers, with the exception of USA Today, to a paid-for online model by the end of this year, bringing in an estimated to $100m a year.

According to Forbes, Gannett told investors at an event yesterday that a metered system, similar to that used by the New York Times, would come into force, with a quota of between five and 15 free articles per month.

USA Today is the only title that will not switch. Forbes notes:

USA Today is in the midst of overhauling its website to create a user experience more similar to that of an iPad app.

But any attempt to charge for its articles would likely encounter certain obvious issues. While its main national rivals, the Times and The Wall Street Journal, rely on their depth and quality to persuade readers to pay up, USA Today trades on its ubiquity. More than half of its 1.7 million circulation comes from copies distributed to readers free (or quasi-free) through hotels, airports and other hubs.

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#paywalls12 – The Economist: ‘We have doubled content in two years’

February 23rd, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Paid-for content

“Just putting print online was never going to be enough” said Audra Martin, vice president of customer engagement at the Economist, at today’s Paywall Strategies conference.

And digital is driving production. “We had to up the amount and frequency we were publishing.

“We have doubled the content we have produced over last two years,” she said, with “blogs accounting for half of content”.

Martin explained how the Economist, which charges readers to use its apps and the majority of the content on its website, is growing its communities, not just paying subscribers.

One way is by focusing on social media optimisation. “We’ve got smart of how and when post things,” she said, with consideration given to different global audiences. “And it amplifies.”

And once people see the kind of content available, they will pay to access they will pay for it. “If they taste it, they will want more,” she said.

Despite recent digital successes and developments – with digital-only subscriptions topping 100,000 at the end of last year, 300,000 out of the Economist’s one million print subscribers using the Economist’s apps, and 70 per cent of subscribers expecting expect to be reading the publication digitally in two years – the magazine remains committed to print.

“We will continue to print the newspaper as long as people want to consume it,” she said.

“But we want to be ahead of of the game when people move from print to digital.”

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