Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Mix Newspapers + Digital + Metered Paywalls and Shake Well! – Hot Mixture or Not?

Newspapers have danced with ups and downs in the past few years. But, as I have posted on periodically in the past, this segment of publishing was one of the first to analyze its options in the new tech environment, embrace change, initiate appropriate training and launch new business models that have included digital and associated mobiles, etc.

This brought about a big learning curve (that is still active) – but, what has shaken out thus far looks promising and has resulted in positive growth in digital circulation and stopped the bleeding in print circulation and even turned print around a little.

Now, let’s drill down and get into some numbers provided by AAM (Alliance of Audited Media) that will tell us for sure if the ‘newspapers + digital + metered paywalls’ mix is a hot mixture or not.

Matthew Flamm reports on the semi-annual newspaper AAM numbers for Crain’s New York Business:


New York Times overtakes USA Today as No. 2

The Grey Lady gains 18% in circulation in the past year as metered paywall pays off. The Wall Street Journal jumps 12% in the much-anticipated semi-annual industry audit.

The New York Times has moved into the No. 2 spot in newspaper circulation, ahead of USA Today, as the addition of more than 300,000 digital subscriptions gave the paper an average weekday circulation of 1.9 million print and digital copies in the six months ending March 31.

The number marked a nearly 18% circulation gain compared to a year ago, with digital gaining enough to more than offset print losses, according to the Alliance of Audited Media, which released its semi-annual newspaper survey on Tuesday.

The alliance includes in its digital count subscriptions to the online paper distributed to tablets, iPhones and through its website. 

The Wall Street Journal, in first place, was up 12% in combined weekday circulation, to 2.4 million print and digital copies. Both papers relied on digital circulation for growth. The Journal‘s print edition fell 5% to 1.5 million copies, while the Times‘ slid 6% to 731,000. 

USA Today dropped 8%, to 1.7 million copies, of which only 250,000 were digital.

On Sundays, the Times remains the clear No. 1, with total circulation of 2.3 million copies, up 16% from a year ago. Its print edition slid less than 1% to 1.25 million copies.

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Solving Every Publishers Paywall Problem

Paywall Producing Money

How about a super simple program that allows you to set up a flexible content monetizer (paywall) that allows readers to pay for one article for an hour or access archieves for a week or gain access to the entire site for a month or year!

That super simple program is Tiny Pass (A real Mighty Mouse!)

“For example, the Huffington Post could use Tiny Pass to make users pay $.05 to be able to read an article by Arianna Huffington for an hour or $.25 to read her entire archives for a week. Or it could charge $5 to gain access to the entire site for one month.” 

More details at the Business Insider by Noah Davis:

This Startup Just Solved Every Publication’s Paywall Problem — And It Is Using The Huffington Post As Proof

Suppose you are a web publisher who wants to institute a pay wall. You could spend millions on developing one like The New York Times.Or you could call Tiny Pass.

The latest project from Hudson Media Ventures is a micropayment platform that allows publishers to indicate the content they want to charge users for, how much they want to charge, and how long the access will last. It then delivers said content after users simply and quickly pay for the privilege.

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Everything Just Can’t be Free Forever!

Filed under: monetizing online newspapers,paywalls,Rupert Murdoch — gator1965 @ 5:07 pm

Giant newspaper publisher Rupert Murdoch has been trying to figure out how to charge for online news for some time…He already has some success with The Wall Street Journal, but, this is a paper geared toward business people who expect to pay for so-called propriety news…He is trying to monetize other online consumer news to save the newspaper industry (really his own hide)…Seems advertizing income and subscriptions are way down!

Some simple questions by this outsider simpleton:

1- If your online product represents the gold standard in your niche, why should online advertising go down? If you can implement the attitude that you only accept ads from the top and true businesses and they have been suitably vetted, I would think advertisers would be knocking your door down to get to you (and into this sppecial ad category) with money in hand!

2- Why not get a letter of agreement between all major newspaper publishers to give say 40% of online news free with some payment for remaining news…or something similar? I think this is where old Rupert is falling short…You know, getting the old consortium.

Truthfully, I feel that the conglomerate that Murdoch has built up in the newspaper business is bad for this country, by any standard, and should definitely be broken up. Especially since he and his papers represent a drastically one-sided (and therefore short-sided) point of view that favors Wall Street (big business…often greedy & crooked) over Main Street (the majority of the country and the main purpose for it’s existence…of, by and for the people; and all that stuff.

Rupert, old chap, you can’t take it with you when you die…You’re going out the same way you came in…naked and poor.

Frank Reed of Marketing Pilgrim reports this:

Earlier this month I explored the idea that Rupert Murdoch’s impending paywall announcement was just that; impending. In a News Corp earnings call he said that the publishing giant would have something to announce in 3-4 weeks regarding a group of publishers that would be banding together to take specialized content and put it in an area that would require a subscription for access. The conventional wisdom, even for someone as adamant about the need to paywalls now, is that there needs to be a consortium of sorts to make this a reality.

Well, we are just about at the 3-week point of this self-imposed time line and there are some doubts as to just how real this whole deal is. Peter Kafka of All Things Digital reported earlier this week.

Within the next two weeks or so, we’re supposed to hear about Rupert Murdoch’s digital news subscription service–the one he has been trying to put together for many months.

One problem: That service is supposed to feature content from publications other than those owned by Murdoch. And sources familiar with News Corp.’s plans tell me Murdoch has yet to sign partners on to the venture.

Read more at Marketing Pilgrim:


The Technology Behind Paywalls

I’ve always been curious about the choices you might have when constructing or designing a paywall for online content…Well, Bill Mickey , an astute writer for FOLIO magazine, has presented a clear picture of what some well known mags are experimenting with to monetize their proprietary online digital content:

Online paywalls are still being scrutinized as a possible revenue stream to supplement declining revenues in print and online display advertising. Yet, there are still relatively few publishers that have found success in the strategy. What’s conspiring against more rapid implementation, especially these days, are significant capital investments in technology, a strategic about-face, a possible decline of total audience, and the daunting prospect of determining if your content can be fashioned into a service or experience, thereby unlocking its value.

There are different models of online paid content—metered, pay-per-article, subscription, and so on. At The Deal, LLC, a b-to-b media company serving the financial and investment sector, an enterprise subscription model was selected.

Even in the b-to-b world, where content is valued for its depth of data and service orientation, adjusting to a paid model can be painful. The Deal, which had a paid model that CIO Michael Lonier called a “mixed bag” of individual subscription packages, re-engineered its platform into one that provides access on an enterprise license level. The decision was based on a conclusion that a fully-licensed model offered a steadier income stream that smoothed out the “cyclical and longer-term secular changes in sponsored advertising,” says Lonier.

“We’re about a year and a half into a significant transformation of our product, and prior to that we had a more conventional b-to-b kind of product mix with a qualified magazine and free stuff and some paid stuff and some premium products. It was a mixed bag of products, which we supported with a subscription strategy and sold primarily via telemarketing,” says Lonier.

The Deal moved away from that strategy to one where all the content was streamlined onto a common platform and format where it could be sold as an enterprise-level service called The Deal Pipeline, complete with its own dedicated sales team. “We sell with a relationship model like you would sell almost any other high-end service,” says Lonier. “There’s a sales team that works with different accounts.”

The jump, as all publishers know, was both risky and painful. In The Deal’s case, the publisher went all in. Not only is the content at a much higher price point, but the company is targeting a smaller customer universe. “The first year is tough for this sort of thing,” says Lonier. “It will be for anyone. You have the baggage of the way you used to do things. Especially, in our case, since we are shooting for a higher price point.”

Lonier is careful to make an important distinction that the value proposition for The Pipeline is what the content does for the customer, not the content itself. “We don’t sell content, we’re selling an enterprise information service. Content is part of it. The other part is access and deliverability. All of that is designed to add value.”

Subscription Paywalls

Harvard Business Review has a paywall that’s primarily accessed via a subscription model. Print subscribers don’t have automatic access. Readers can subscribe to print ($79/year) or digital ($99/year), or both ($129). Non-subscribers also have the option of buying a single-copy PDF of a story for $6.50.

It’s a fairly aggressive paywall in both pricing and access—non-subscribers can read the first full page of a story before bumping into the subscribe message. According to Kevin Newman, director of Web technology at HBR, the magazine is exploring ways to be a bit more flexible. The goal is to tease just enough to achieve conversion. “Our strategy is changing to allow users, instead of having that firm wall, to have an opportunity to get a deeper sample and then restrict after that,” says Newman. “Hopefully, we’re accommodating users and finding that pivot point where users become subscribers.”

In-House Solution for Flexibility

The infrastructure Newman’s team has built was engineered completely in-house. This approach allows Newman the flexibility to make changes on the fly, especially since specific paywall strategies are difficult to commit to as user preferences and behaviors change.

“We went in this direction because we want to do this piecemeal,” he says. “We want to introduce it to the users without disrupting their experience and find the right mix for people who aren’t customers. We haven’t found any other products out there that can deliver that kind of functionality.”

Accordingly, the HBR paywall system exists in between enterprise systems (user data and transactional operations, for example) and the content systems (CMS). This allows Newman to experiment with new approaches without having to re-engineer integration with the other systems. “In between there we’ve got the applications my team runs,” he says. “The point at which we’ll be experimenting with the paywall is exactly there. At what point do we want the content to be displayed, or put up an offer? It’s all very much in the application and not tied to the enterprise systems. It’s back to the more flexible approach. If users rebel and reject our approach we want to dissemble it and get back to where we were, without all the overhead.”

Similarly, The Deal built its system in-house as well, all the way down to the way the publisher controls subscriber access. “We built a whole new platform,” says Lonier. “We moved away from an old Sun Server world and built a virtualized network. We employ services in the cloud. Every page is a set of queries—when people access our content people are actually manipulating queries.”

Would you continue to use your favorite site if there was a paywall?

Bad [for] News
In its recent State of the News Media report, the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism broke out a section on online economics. Keep in mind that the report is on news media, not media in general, but the results don’t bode well for paid content in a mass-news market. In a phone survey, 82 percent of online news readers said they’d surf somewhere else for news if they confronted a paywall—even if it was their favorite site.


Rupert Murdoch, Paywalls and Why It’s Hard to Charge for Quality Bagels

Filed under: charging for online content,Malcolm Coles,paywalls,Rupert Murdoch — gator1965 @ 10:14 am

“Rupert Murdoch, Paywalls and Why It’s Hard to Charge for Quality Bagels” Writers Thought for The Day on John R. Austin-Writer Get this inside analysis @

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