Browse > Home /

#wef12: CEO of Australia’s Fairfax Media encourages publishers to make ‘the big calls now’

September 4th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Newspapers, Online Journalism

The Sydney Morning Herald is one website which will see a paywall introduced

Earlier this year Australian publisher Fairfax Media announced what it described as ‘landmark’ events, including the introduction of a digital-first editorial strategy in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, as well as a paywall in front of its Metro Media digital content.

The strategy followed a 12-month review, which concluded a need for “decisive action to restructure our business model to better reflect audience and advertising trends”.

This included cost cutting measures such as the loss of 1,900 members of staff in a bid to make savings each year of $235 million AUD, within the next three years, according to a report by one of Fairfax Media’s metropolitan titles the Sydney Morning Herald.

At the time chief executive of Fairfax Media Greg Hywood said:

No one should be in any doubt that we are operating in very challenging times. Readers’ behaviours have changed and will not change back. As a result, we are taking decisive actions to fundamentally change the way we do business.

The changes announced today have been selected after considering the merits of a full range of structural alternatives, including a demerger. The package of strategic initiatives is bold, and several are difficult, particularly as they will impact on some of our people.

However, we believe that they are in the best interests of Fairfax, our shareholders, and ultimately the majority of our people. They are necessary to ensure Fairfax retains its position as a leading independent media company and a key voice in our markets.

It is now a couple of months since the announcement was made and on Monday (3 September) Hywood spoke at the World Editors Forum in Kiev in detail about the restructure, and where it is hoped it will take the company in the next few years.

Hywood said the company was facing the same external pressures and declines as other media business and decided to respond by building a “platform or technological-agnostic” model.

And the company is “within reach of a very different profitable model for journalism focused primarily on digital distribution”, he said.

During his presentation to the conference he also called on other news outlets to “make the calls, and make the calls now”, in order to develop a “dominant digital news position”.

At Fairfax Media such big calls have included a move for two of its metropolitan titles – or mastheads as Hywood refers to them – SMH and The Age, to a compact format next year. The company is also closing down two large printing plants and moving the work to its regional plants.

In the newsroom there has also been a “revolution” he said, with the newspaper placed “at the end of the process”. Meanwhile sales teams are focused on offering “one media solution for each advertiser”, rather than going in with individual solutions per platform.

And while Fairfax Media is making these significant changes to its business, Hywood thinks other news organisations should also be reassessing their situations.

One day… it won’t be profitable to print any more. Then what you do is turn the digital tap on, what drops out is the entire costs of the manufacturing business underneath it.

As outlined in the ‘Fairfax of the Future’ strategy earlier this year, the company believes that implementing the changes it is will give it “significant flexibility to adjust the business model to reflect audience and advertising trends” should they change in the future.

But “you’ve got to make the big calls now”, he warned.

Tags: , , , ,

Similar posts:

#wef12: WSJ’s Raju Narisetti on ‘copycat’ paywalls and the ‘golden’ future of digital advertising

September 4th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Business, Online Journalism

Raju Narisetti from the Wall Street Journal, pictured speaking at the news:rewired conference, earlier this year

Speaking at the World Editors Forum on Monday (3 September), managing editor for the Wall Street Journal’s digital network Raju Narisetti said he had concerns about many US “copycat” paywalls, and whether they would be able to generate the necessary revenues to succeed financially.

Instead, he predicted that “the golden age of digital advertising lies ahead of us” and that by “running towards paywalls” news outlets may be missing the challenges of the future, such as the mobile consumption of news and the need to produce content which can travel with its advertising to platforms outside the news outlet’s own.

I caught up with him after the session to speak to him more about his views on digital business strategy, “copycat” paywalls, and why he thinks smaller news brands shouldn’t be “throwing the advertising baby out with the bathwater”.

I think most US metro papers are looking at the New York Times and saying let’s follow their model, whether it’s 20 free stories or 30 free stories, it’s a metered wall, and I think the New York Times has seemed to have pulled it off but I think a lot of smaller papers will find that the content they have is not going to be enough for people to want to pay.

My worry is that you’re throwing the advertising baby out with the bathwater saying ‘oh advertising rates are falling, it’s a no-win situation’. As you saw, as an entire global industry, we only get 2 per cent of digital advertising, so my concern is why are we not focusing on the advertising end of the business which is … much larger and is growing, rather than focusing on the subscriber end of the business where we’re going to have a much harder time convincing people to pay for content?

News outlets should instead be asking “how should I expand the pie?”, he said. Narisetti added that part of the opportunity in the digital advertising business will require news organisations to do more to understand audience interactions with adverts.

As an industry we know our readers very well, we know what they do what, what they read, where they come from. Why is it that we haven’t invested enough to know how they interact with advertising and taken advantage of that?

He said some news outlets have “abdicated the responsibility of understanding their advertising behaviours and then taking advantage of that”.

Instead, “we’re just selling eyeballs as opposed to selling our knowledge of our reader behaviour”.

We know so much about what they consume … why don’t we know what advertising works for our readers then? We’ve just ignored that.

So why does he think news outlets without that are moving in the paywall direction? Factors include a “me too” mentality, he said, where news outlets see another succeeding and want to try it too, in other cases it may be seen as a “defensive mechanism”, he said, “to say it will stop people migrating from our print to our website”.

But this could be missing a bigger issue, he warned.

My point is that increasingly readers have the opportunity to be more and more promiscuous because technology allows them to go anywhere …

While we’re all on a journey of different speeds on, say, this information highway, there’s probably going to be a big mobile wave coming behind that will put all of us in a relatively level playing field. How do you monetise mobile… how do you create stickiness, is something we should be thinking about now rather than worrying about our website which are increasingly seeing fewer and fewer people come.

… I’m not sure we’re going after the right set of problems.

The Wall Street Journal “never gave its content away for free”, so it does not face the challenge he has highlighted for others of trying to charge for content that was once free. And of course other paywalls are also seeing success, but his argument is that digital advertising is far from being fully maximised and paywalls should not necessarily be the first answer for everyone.

If you have a paywall that’s working, more power to you, but if you’re going to jump in feet first or head first, think a little about what’s going to work rather than just saying the [New York] Times is doing it, let me follow.

Tags: , , , , ,

Similar posts:

#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.”

Tags: , , , ,

Similar posts:

#paywalls12 – Looking outside: five paid-content lessons from Denmark, Slovakia and Slovenia

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

Copyright: Dreamer, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the sessions of today’s Paywall Strategies conference focussed on lessons from other countries, hearing from Berlingske Media, Denmark’s largest private media company, and from Piano Media, which has set up national subscription models in Slovakia and Slovenia.

Mads-Jakob Vad Kristensen, director of digital development at Berlingske Media, which has 2,000 employees and generates €400 million-a-year in revenue, explained how a range of titles, including tabloid, business-to-business and business-to-consumer publications are charging for content.

Not comfortable with the term paywall, Vad Kristensen shared the publisher’s lessons.

He gave the example of how Berlingske Media title BT Plus started by removing content “nice and slowly”, beginning to charge readers in April 2011.

Perhaps due to the season, a surprise first success in encouraging people to pay was an article on ’17 ways to spring clean your house’.

1. People will pay 

“If you have the right content people will pay for it, even in the consumer space,” he said.

However, he admitted the publisher “has not yet cracked” what makes young people part with their cash.

2. Travel guides are a hit

Another lesson from the Danish publisher is that “travel guides are a hit”, with people prepared to pay for digital city guides.

Many go on to pay for a €4-a-month subscription as that is the same price as an individual guide. And then they forget to cancel their subscriptions.

3. Micropayments do not work

People will not pay for individual articles, was another lesson from the Danish publisher – even for an article advising people on “how to become a super lover” did not generate a single Kroner.

Mobile is going towards a paid model and digital is growing, Vad Kristensen said, revealing that “within a month we should have a new B2B offering, priced at around €40-a-month, purely digital product.”

4. Look at new forms of content

Vad Kristensen also urged publishers, especially of B2B and B2C titles, to consider the payment opportunities with new forms of content.

“It’s stupid to only look at content that has existed for 200 years.”

Tomas Bella – the CEO of Piano Media, the company behind group paywalls in Slovakia, which launched in April last year, and Slovenia, which went up last month – shared his lessons.

5. Group models work

A joint model where several publishers team up to charge readers works, said Bella, giving examples of successes and feedback from publishers in Slovakia and Slovenia.

The individual titles decide how much content to put in the paid-for section of the site, which ranges from 0 to 60 per cent.

The site to have joined but has not put any content behind the wall is a TV station with an ad-free site. It took the stance that it is not losing anything – and some confused customers even sign up and pay.

“Some titles even charging for commenting”, Bella said, resulting in “the quality of the discussions actually go going up”.

“It is not ideal” but you do “scare away” problem commenters, Bella said.

Bella explained how 40 per cent of the revenue generated goes to the site which saw the reader join and pay, the rest of the money is divided between the sites where the reader spends his or her time.

And Piano Media has big plans: it expects three to four countries to adopt the group model in 2012 and has an overall target of 50 countries, requiring four or five publishers to participate.

The UK is “not likely to be the first English-speaking country” to adopt the model, but sees strong possibilities for a joint paywall around areas of content, such as sport.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

#paywalls12 – Niche content paywalls: three success stories

February 23rd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Paid-for content

The journey from print to digital is “a bit like making trains that float, in case they need to go back on the canal,” Steve Hewlett, Guardian columnist and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Media Show.

His analogy came at the opening of today’s Paywall Strategies event, which Hewlett is chairing.

Three niche publishers spoke on the panel, along with Tom Whitwell from the Times.

For B2B publisher Lloyd’s List Group, publisher of the 277-year-old daily print newspaper Lloyds List ,which specialises in shipping and commodities news, “Print comes third behind mobile and web,” Adam Smallman said.

“We have sought to provide bloody fantastic content. That’s our paywall strategy,” he added.

Lloyd’s model is a high-price subscription which companies pay, providing access for their employees.

Out of the 7,000 subscribers, 4,000 receive the daily print copy.

A huge focus for the Lloyds List Group is the merging of data and journalism. Smallman illustrated how data led to a story which saw him interviewed on each major US network after last month’s sinking of cruise ship the Costa Concordia.

Data collection meant Lloyds was able to report that the ship had previously come even closer to the island off which it sank, coming within 230 metres of land last year.

Another niche publisher on the panel was Incisive Media, which owns a range of specialist titles.

Jon Bentley, head of online commercial development, said 65 per cent of people who come to Incisive sites never come back. “Therefore focus on your fans who do return,” he recommended.

And those who do not return look at just 2.6 pages per visit, compared with 7.11 pages viewed at by “customers”.

Their aim is therefore to convert readers from “fly-by to fan”, Bentley said, explaining it can be tough with just 5 per cent taking up a trial.

Rob Aherne, of Haymarket Media Group, talked about a different type of niche content: motorsport titles.

The sites – Autosport, Motorsport News and Castrol EDGE World Driver Rankings – have 1.1 million users viewing 20 million pages a month.

“Our paywall has saved us as a business,” he proclaimed.

After trialling a free model and a hard paywall, they have settled on a “freemium” option, with some free content and readers asked to ay £5.50-a-moth for additional content. Those who buy the magazine get a digital subscription included.

So what will people pay for? “Words and pictures – and it is all ad free,” he explained.

Just 1 per cent of readers pay to access content, but those account for 11 per cent of site traffic. “They are loyal, they are engaged,” Aherne added.

The motorsport titles break news outside the wall, but provide content for deeper engagement behind the wall.

Readers subscribe because “they want to know more than the bloke next to them in the pub,” Aherne said.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

#news2011: Paywalls – ‘the solution is going to be unique and individual’

November 29th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Events, Journalism

In one of the first sessions at the Global Editors Network news summit today the panel discussed paywalls and paid-for apps.

One of the speakers was Frederic Filloux, general manager of ePresse Consortium, the “digital kiosk” or newsstand from ePresse which launched in July this year after just six months of development by a two-man team (the catalogue section of the iPhone app is shown in the screenshot on the left).

Filloux gave an interesting insight into the model and the online challenges of the industry in which it performs.

He said the kiosk has a “news DNA”, leaving the leisure magazine market to other outlets.

“It is highly selective. It had just eight publishers at start, and might have grown to 12 in January. It is capturing an 85 per cent reach, the market is quite concentrated.”

I spoke to him more about the platform after the session, when he also discussed how ePresse would be working with Google’s One Pass system

Frederic Filloux of ePresse by journalismnews

During the session the speakers also called on editors to experiment with numerous revenue streams, and find their unique market.

Filloux told the conference “the company that will survive will be the one able to have not two but 15 different revenue streams and be able to test, experiment and find out what will be most valuable … It will have to test a lot and try many formulas.”

Fellow speaker Madhav Chinnappa, head of strategic partnerships for Google News, added that “the solution is going to be unique and individual”.

In my personal opinion the most successful paywall has probably been the Financial Times, but they have a unique set of circumstances. It took them years to develop their paywall, trying different things. They spent a lot of effort around customer data. They come from unique position. I don’t know any human who pays for a subscription to the FT, it’s companies, so that’s going to be different from most newspapers in the audience.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

#wef11: Publishers share paywall strategies and lessons learnt

“Don’t be afraid” – this was just one of many messages given by a panel of publishers at the World Editors Forum today, who shared their experiences of erecting “paywalls” or what came to be termed by the panel as “leaky walls”.

The panel featured three news outlets which have all established paid-content systems in their own ways, although the general approach appeared to be the same, leave holes in the “paywall”.

Dirk Nolde, managing editor of Berliner Morgenpost Online in Germany spoke first, outlining the site’s paid-content model which is free for print subscribers, or 4.90 euros a month. Only some content is placed behind the wall, including local news and sports, which are charged on different models, such as by day or month etc. “Make the assets paid”, he said.

The site also offers a “first-click-free”, such as via Google or social media, which works three times a day. ” We are trying to be leaky with the paywall,” he added.

The results so far is that we have 11,000 digital subscribers which includes print subscribers who can register for free. We thought it would be horrifying but we were wrong, visits went up.

According to his statistics in December 2009, the year in which the “paywall” was set up, visits stood at 2.4 million. In September 2010 this had risen to 3.3 million and last month, in September 2011 it was at 5.1 million.

It didn’t really hurt us, we were able to tell the readers and our users there’s quality behind this paywall.

But he said the site is looking to move to a more metered model.

We will give away more stuff, use a softer approach. It is about being able to accommodate users with the fact we think you should pay for content. That’s our mission.

Fellow panel member, Matus Kostolny, editor-in-chief of SME in Slovakia, discussed how they joined up to the Piano project, a group paywall used by nine news outlets in Slovakia.

The project was set up by Piano Media. I spoke to chief executive of Piano Media Tomas Bella after the panel to find out where the company is going in the near future.

Tomas Bella, Piano Media by journalismnews

The paywall was erected in May this year. On SME it costs 2.90 euros a month or 29 euros a year and, just like Berliner Morgenpost Online, is free to print subscribers. Also similarly only some content is behind “the wall”, such as opinion and political news, the wall is removed for big stories and SME is also considering a more metered wall.

But he added that is is important to remember that “behind stories are real human beings doing real jobs that are worth paying for”.

Public opinion is one of the things we want to influence and we believe it’s so important people pay for it, but if we don’t pursuade enough people then we’ll lose our inflence. We are thinking of different ways to change the structure of paid content and still think that in the end the journalism is worth to pay for and we will pursuade our readers to do it.

Revenue for the first month across all nine sites was 40,000 euros, “which was successful story for our market”, he added.

We were afraid we would lose readers but in the end we didn’t lose anybody, there is an increase of five per cent in unique viitors. We were afraid we would lose readers in locked sections but not losing them so much.

Later he added that one of the biggest lessons is not to be afraid to experiment.

The final speaker was assistant managing editor of digital content at the New York Times, Jim Roberts, who shared some interesting details on the Times’ model, which we reported on here. He told the conference the Times’ pay model is “based on number of principles”.

We try to strike a very delicate balance betwee keeping as open as possible to news junkies, but also really wanted to instill a sense of value for our loyalists who continue to consume quality journalism.

We wanted our regular users to pay. They came to our site and still do, frequently. We felt they understood the sense of value and they would want to pay for it as many of them had done for their print subscription.

Concluding the panel the speakers were asked to share their main lessons. Dirk Nolde gave three which nicely rounded off the session:

  • Communication, communication, communication  – you have to tell users what you are doing
  • This is no supermarket. We’re not selling everything, they don’t have to pay for everything. You have to give things away to accomodate readers.
  • Produce online content that’s really worthy of being paid for. That convinces readers and makes them say “wow that was good”.
Tags: , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Second country expected to adopt group paywall later this year

August 15th, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Business, Online Journalism, Traffic

Three months on from Slovakia’s group paywall going up around nine news outlets, with “promising results”, means a second small country is expected to adopt the model before the end of the year, according to Piano Media, the company which signed up the publishers and put up the paywall.

Tomas Bella, chief executive of Piano Media told Journalism.co.uk that the paywall generated €40,000 in the first month. The company aimed to sign up around 1 per cent of Slovakia’s 2.5 million internet uses in the first 12 months. He said that after three months the company has achieved two thirds of the target for the first year.

Bella said:

Piano expects to launch one more country this winter and it is likely that a few more countries will follow next year.

Bella did not reveal which countries are expected to follow Slovakia’s model explained that serious discussions are talking place.

We are now thinking about some of the smaller to medium-sized European countries which maybe some of the Scandanavian countries.

We’ve also had interest from France and from Australia.

Bella explained that Piano’s first foray into the bigger markets, such as France and Australia, is likely to trial group paywalls for regional news sites or parts of sites, such as sport.

Slovak paywall model

Nine major publishers with more than 40 websites entered a joint paywall deal in Slovakia which went up in April.

Users are charged €2.90 a month to access content – a bit like paying a satellite or cable TV subscription to view channels owned by different broadcasters.

Piano developed an algorithm that times how long a reader spends on a site, with content weighted accordingly. So the longer a reader spends on a publisher’s site, the more revenue that publisher generates. Video therefore pays more than editorial and the model does not encourage crafty headline writing to generate clicks.

Different sites in Slovakia have opted for varying restrictions with some being extremely porous paywalls with just one article behind the wall, some charge people to access comments or to participate in forums, other sites have much stricter Times-style pay-to-view.

Some Slovak sites opted not to sign up to the paywall deal, Bella explained, but said the “the number of readers for the sites that went behind paywalls is basically very comparable to the sites that remained outside of the paywall”.

It didn’t cause any big drop in the number of readers, it caused only some drops in traffic to specific areas of the sites that went behind the paywall.

Bella also said visitors are moving between paywalled sites, a benefit of the joint model.

Funnily enough in June and July the news sites that are inside the Piano paywall were even doing a little bit better in traffic than the ones that are outside the paywall.

Bella has talked to 10 publishers in the UK and explained from next month the company will be negotiating a deal for a UK publisher with websites abroad.

He told Journalism.co.uk, he thinks adoption in Britain requires wider use elsewhere, with English language sites being far more difficult to sign up to a group paywall deal due to competition from abroad.

I’m not saying it won’t work in Britain but we have to prove it in two or three more countries first.

In Slovakia companies that opted out of the paywall initially will be joining next month.

Publishers that are already part of the group are now “fine tuning” what they put behind the wall. Additional content will go behind the wall and a small amount will be brought in front of the wall.

Changes will be made both ways but much more content is going behind the wall.

The funny thing is some of [the companies that did sign up] said we didn’t want to tell you before but we never thought it would work.

Bella said Piano Media had not heard of any publishers losing advertising revenue due to the wall.

Advertisers and media agencies might be a little worried as publishers are getting a little bit independent and less dependent on their revenue.

Tags: , , , ,

Similar posts:

Forbes: Times and NY Times paywall figures compared

Forbes reports on encouraging subscriber stats for the New York Times, the second set of figures released since it went behind a porous paywall in March.

Since then, the paper has amassed some 224,000 digital-only subscribers. Another 57,000 subscribe to replica editions delivered on e-readers like the Kindle and the Nook. On top of that, there are the 100,000 people getting e-subscriptions sponsored by Lincoln.

Jeff Bercovici goes on to compare the NY Times with the Times.

The Times of London launched its own, very different pay model about nine months before the [New York] Times. (Briefly: the Times [of London] has an impermeable paywall, while the New York Times uses a metered system that allows non-subscribers 20 free pageviews a month.) It only recently hit the 100,000 mark. The Times of London is smaller, but not all that much so: it has a weekday circulation of about 500,000 and a Sunday circulation of 1.2 million, versus 900,000 and 1.3 million for the [New York] Times.

Importantly, the [New York] Times managed to add a new leg to its business without significantly cannibalising its existing web audience. [The site] averaged 33 million unique visitors per month in the second quarter, in line with its average for the preceding 11 months, said CEO Janet Robinson on a call with analysts.

Forbes’ full post goes on to explain the challenges facing the New York Times.

Tags: , , ,

Similar posts:

News International to rethink ‘iron-curtain’ paywall approach for the Sun

The Sun is to use a mixed model to charge for online content, according to News International head of marketing Katie Vanneck-Smith, although no date has been set for its introduction.

Speaking last night at a panel debate about paywalls and digital journalism models at City University London, Vanneck-Smith’s admission seemed to mark a shift in News International’s ‘iron-curtain’ approach to paywalls on it’s news sites.

She told the audience at the debate:

I think we all said that the models are mixed. So there are no plan at the moment, there’s no date, for when the Sun will have paid as part of its model for it’s digital website in terms of its news access.

When questioned by Media Guardian editor Dan Sabbagh about whether this marked a change in News International thinking, Vanneck-Smith replied: “We will introduce paid for content and services on the Sun in the future, I couldn’t tell you what the date is.” She would not confirm whether this would be in the form of a paywall, but earlier in the event she said that the newspaper was “of the view that mixed models and blended models are right and the best way to pursue, I think, a very vibrant and exciting journalism future for this country”.

Almost a year on from the Times and Sunday Times going behind a paywall, Vanneck-Smith said both were making more money digitally from their 79,000 subscribers than pre-paywall, when they had 20 million browsers.

Dan Sabbagh, the Guardian‘s media editor, revealed the newspaper would pursue a free content model and would move towards becoming an aggregator of news and opinion.

We want to become, as well as a provider of content, a content aggregator. People are very keen on participating with the Guardian, they want to be re-published on our site and they’d like us to sell their advertising.

We think it’s critical that we’re part of the conversation that people are part of.

And while I don’t have any big philosophical rejections to what the Times and Sunday Times are trying to do commercially, it seems like a perfectly proper strategy to pursue, I’m less convinced by the severity of their paywall model. In effect, the Times and Sunday Times journalism is outside the journalistic conversation

Sabbagh also revealed the Guardian site had its best day ever had best ever day when Osama Bin Laden died, resulting in 4.5 million unique hits compared with a daily average of 2.4 million uniques.

According to Geordie Greig, the editor of the Evening Standard, the paper is on course to make a profit by 2012, and would consider a paywall if he saw it worked elsewhere.

I think we will probably be on the verge of profit next year. Now I’m not saying that to say we’re better than them [other newspapers], I’m really it because we’re in a very difficult industry to make money.

I think everyone applauds the attempt by News International to make money, we really, really hope it works. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong in saying, if it does, we’re all going to copy it, that’s what happens in industry where there are leaders.

The Standard has experienced a huge turnaround in fortunes since going free back in 2009. Greig revealed the move had allowed the paper to charge 150 per cent for advertising space compared with old prices. Greig explained:

By changing our economic model, we were able to survive and thrive. Suddenly we become bigger and by bigger meant we could earn bigger sums of money.

We were losing a ton of money, we were losing between 10-20 per cent of our readers every single year and our debt was running into tens of billions potentially a year and this was unsustainable.

We made a decision to go free and the great thing was that made two competing papers in the evening leave the market so that made us in a more dominant.

Grieg also revealed prior to going free, the Evening Standard sold 700 copies at Oxford Circus. Now, it distributes 32,000 copies from that location on a daily basis.

Stevie Spring, chief executive of Future Publishing, suggested the problem with charging for content online was that it involved a change in mindset for users used to not paying for news, likening broadband access to an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The difference in a digital world is fewer and fewer people brought up in a world where everything online is free, there is an expectation of free. Or it’s not an expectation of free, but everybody has grown up believing that once you’ve paid for your broadband access, that’s an all-you-eat-buffet, that’s my library card, everything else is free.

You have a real disincentive to pay once you disaggregate the content from it’s packaging. When you have a physical artifact, a real DVD or real magazine or a real piece of paper, once I disaggregate the content from its pack, people aren’t sure what the value of the content in isolation is.

They expect it to be much cheaper because of course there is a marginal cost of distribution. However, what people aren’t seeing is the increasing cost of creation because actually it costs more to fulfill expectations in a digital world when people want 24/7, up the second with audio visual adapted and amended for every screen. So cost of production goes up.

Dominic Young, former director of strategy and product development for News International, said it was up to media organisations to innovate and find a solution.

The challenge for the industry and for everybody is to identify new models and pursue them with gusto. In that sense, I think what the Times and Sunday Times are doing is really important.

It’s no surprise to me that the companies making the most money out of the internet are companies which invest nothing in content. The companies which make the most money out of journalism directly and companies which tend to be parasitic aggregator, many of them just straightforward feeds.

On suggestion put forward for the Sun by Roy Greenslade in his Guardian column today, in response to last night’s debate, was charging for the newspaper’s popular online bingo games while keeping the rest of the site free of charge.

Tags: , , , , ,

Similar posts:

© Mousetrap Media Ltd. Theme: modified version of Statement