Category Archives: Paid for content

If You Have News, It Will Be Aggregated and/or Curated

The Pew Research Center has come out with a massive new report on the state of media as part of its Project for Excellence in Journalism, and it comes to a number of conclusions about where the industry stands—including the fact that Twitter and Facebook are still driving a fairly small amount of traffic to media outlets (although this segment is growing quickly) and that such tech giants as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft control almost 70 percent of online advertising. But one other thing that becomes clear from the Pew report is just how big a role aggregators of all kinds—both human and machine-powered—are playing in news consumption.

Despite the growing evidence to the contrary, many newspaper companies and other traditional media outlets still seem to think the vast majority of their audience comes to them directly and prefers to read their content above all other sources. More than anything else, this is the core philosophy behind the rise of paywalls—which more and more papers are implementing—and also the millions of dollars media companies have poured into developing iPad apps and other walled-garden-style approaches to news delivery. The assumption is that readers will want only the content that comes from that specific outlet.

For many consumers, however, aggregators of various kinds are the way they consume their news now, whether through Web-based portals like Yahoo News or Google News, or through a variety of newer aggregation-based apps and services, such as Flipboard, Pulse, or Zite for the iPad, as well as News.me, Summify (which was recently acquired by Twitter), and Percolate. According to the Pew report, almost 30 percent of consumers get their news from a “news organizing website or app,” compared with the 36 percent who go directly to a media company’s website or app.

In effect, many users seem to be looking to generate their own digital-newspaper-style overview of the world rather than accepting one from a single media outlet, and if the content they are looking for comes from an aggregator like the Huffington Post because the original is behind a paywall, then so be it. The problem for media companies is that this kind of behavior is in direct conflict with most of  the business models they’re relying on for revenue, whether it’s advertising or app- and paywall-based subscription services—which is why such media moguls as News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch continually accuse Google of “piracy.”

And the problem is actually even bigger than that, since the Huffington Post and Google News are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to aggregation and/or curation. Although Facebook and Twitter may not be huge factors in terms of news consumption at the moment—as my colleague Staci has pointed out at paidContent—with only 9 percent of users saying they get their news from those networks, that figure has grown almost 60 percent in the past year alone and is likely continuing to increase.

To some extent the curation phenomenon is helping mainstream news organizations, because people are sharing links that get clicked on and drive traffic back to news outlets. This is especially the case with Twitter, since the Pew report notes that a larger proportion of users follow official media sources there, while a majority of Facebook users get their news from friends and family members. But just as with aggregation apps and services, the content that any single media company produces just becomes part of the sea of content that is distributed through these networks.

On top of that, Facebook itself is becoming much more of an aggregator of news, through the “social reading” apps it offers from such outlets as the Washington Post and the Guardian. Although both newspapers have bragged about the number of people who have registered for their apps and shared content through them, the reality is that much of the benefit from that activity ultimately goes to Facebook—in terms of the time users spend on the site, the advertising they are exposed to, etc.—rather than the news outlet.

Emily Bell, the former Guardian digital editor who now runs the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, noted in a response to the Pew report on Twitter that social platforms like Facebook are becoming “frenemies” with media companies, since they generate traffic but also suck up much of the benefit in terms of advertising.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-03-19/if-you-have-news-it-will-be-aggregated-and-or-curated

Open letter to Rupert Murdoch concerning The Sunday Times paywall

Dear Rupert Murdoch,

Last week, on 4 August, this website reported that you ‘gave the first hint’  that subscriber levels to The Times pay wall are ‘strong’.

Good on you.

But what you have done has really hacked me off. You may not care about this. After all, who am I?

Well, I am one of your customers.

I have been reading The Sunday Times for all my adult life and I still pay £2 a week for the privilege. My kids think this is heathen behaviour and a complete waste of paper – especially as I don’t read half of it. The ‘Money’, ‘In Gear’ and ‘Home’ sections go straight in the orange bag.  In ‘Travel’, I read that naughty little article ‘Confessions of a Tourist’ and then chuck that out too. Such a waste of paper.

As I’m a cultured kind of guy, I read ‘Culture’, especially the book section, but I’ll come back to that.

By the way, I used to keep ‘Culture’ for a week to refer to the TV and Radio listings (sometimes returning to book reviews and other articles I glossed over on Sunday) but now I chuck it on the Sunday with the rest.

Ironically, this is thanks to you. Because not only do I buy The Sunday Times every week but I subscribe to Sky for TV, phone and broadband. And on my Sky HD+ box, it is much easier to see what programmes are coming up than it is in your Sunday Times ‘Culture’ section. So I bin it.

The sections I do read are the newspaper, ‘Review’, ‘Business’ and ‘Sport’ (even there, the ‘Cowes Week’ supplement went straight overboard). So, for years, I have paid for your products and been a loyal customer.

But last week there was an article in The Sunday Times about a medical condition in which I have a particular interest. I wanted to ‘save’ it on my computer in the special computer file I keep for this subject.

I looked the article up your website to see if I could save it electronically. No doubt, you will say this is illegal. But I feel I have paid for the article and, having paid up, the format in which I want to file it is my business.

Then I hit the pay wall.

Well, I am sorry. I have already paid for this content in your paper.And I deeply resent the fact that you are trying to extract even more money out of me for something I have already paid for. So what did I do?

I could have scanned in the article and saved it electronically but, before bothering to do this, I found the same subject on one of your competitor’s websites. They covered it quite well, actually, and they didn’t charge me to access it (so I’m thinking of transferring to their newspaper too).

Anyway, I think I have a better idea (or rather, on this site, an insight) which, on a one-off basis only, I am prepared to share with you for free. First, I have to declare an interest. I am a co-founder of two websites www.Lovereading.co.uk and www.Lovewriting.co.uk.

Lovereading reviews and recommends books and charges publishers to email this content to readers who have opted in to receive this service for the genres of books they have told us they are interested in.

Lovewriting doesn’t review and recommend books, but is a media channel where self-published authors pay us to promote their books on the site. To help these independent authors, we urge our 150,000+ Lovereading users to browse books on Lovewriting.

All Featured Books on both these websites have free Opening Extracts. Admittedly, compared to your empire, these are tiny businesses. However, because of what I have learnt, I can accuse you of being lazy.

Why don’t you use your Sunday Times website to find out from me the ‘sections’ of content that I am interested in and pay for on a weekly basis? Why don’t you unbundle your customers into their areas of interest rather than by media channel (newspaper, TV, digital etc)?

Why don’t you ask us if we would be interested in receiving digital content from your media channels in our individual areas of interest (e.g. books)?

Then you could charge advertisers to reach clearly defined audiences who you know, because they have told you, are interested in certain activities (books, cars, sport etc) and likely to buy the products that apply thereto.

Perhaps you could could do this across all your media channels and point your customers to ‘destination sites’, such as www.Lovereading.co.uk, which would offer them more in-depth coverage of their areas of interest.

This way, you can avoid hacking off previously loyal customers like me by asking us to pay twice for the same content.

Yours sincerely,

A Different Hat

PS – from Lovereading, I have learnt there are many other smart ways of monetising your newly refined and defined customers but, like you, I’m not going to give everything away for free am I?

I did enough of that in my last post.

http://community.brandrepublic.com/blogs/adifferenthat/archive/2010/08/12/open-letter-to-rupert-murdoch-concerning-the-sunday-times-paywall.aspx

Times Puts Some Ads Outside The Wall And On iPad As Web Display Reduces

Though they are often cast as distinct business models, advertising and paid content are not necessarily mutually exclusive – or are they?

Observations from Times Newspapers’ digital properties point to two different answers…

In one, The Times is now selling full-page display campaigns in to its iPad app, for which readers pay £9.99 per month. Campaigns spotted by paidContent:UK are for IBM and Lloyds TSB, occupying four pages each in Monday’s third edition. Each includes a video overlay containing the companies’ existing TV ads.

The Financial Times had made its iPad edition free for two initial months thanks to a big headline sponsorship from watchmaker Hublot, but The Times is using iPad to combine both payments and ads, as newspapers do.

Times Newspapers had gone in to its new paid website strategy saying it would continue running ads on the Times and Sunday Times websites despite introducing reader charging. Indeed, its commercial team has promised advertisers “large impactful formats”….

But, in fact, what’s happened is the number of ads has reduced dramatically from when Times Online was freely available. Apart from spots for Virgin Media (NSDQ: in Sport and Tavarnello wine in Style, display slots in key website sections are so far mostly occupied by promotions for Times services themselves.

In their place, one thing that is clicking increasingly is a new spin on an old kind of sponsorship – paid editorial

The Times and Sunday Times sites are running a series of sponsored features and site-lets for Accenture, Courvoisier, Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet and ICIS, each apparently the online extension of a recent paid supplement…

But (and this is interesting) these advertorials are not behind the paywall. The Chevrolet campaign, for an outdoorsy new 4×4, even exists on an external domain name from the main Times site altogether, CoolGlamping.co.uk. Meanwhile, the Accenture campaign is actually for a Business news section called Need To Know, which, despite being presented in navigation as content, is also outside the wall.

One theory about The Times’ recent strategic shift is that the whittling down of its audience to a handful of paying customers would default advertisers’ addressable market to a self-selected group of wealthier readers, with a higher inclination to buy stuff. A contrary theory had been that, actually, advertisers just want scale and would hate losing mass appeal…

Whatever; why would advertisers want to restrict viewing of their ads only to paying readers?

The reduction of conventional web display ads from the Times Online days may suggest advertiser concern at the smaller audience – but it may also be possible for The Times to make some of it up with big-hitting sponsorships from premium brands, and by jumping aboard the nascent iPad advertising rush.

http://paidcontent.co.uk/article/419-times-puts-some-ads-outside-the-wall-and-on-ipad-as-web-display-evapora/

UK Times’ Traffic Has Dropped, But Nobody’s Gaining

The Times’ and Sunday Times’ share of UK newspaper web visits nearly halved from 4.37 percent to 2.67 percent in the month since it introduced new sites with a registration wall, according to Hitwise, which monitors the clicks of eight million UK users. But it has now fallen to 1.81 percent since it started redirecting readers of the old, free Times Online site last week. Users will have to pay to register from the next few weeks. The Times+ sign-up page is now the most clicked-to page from The Times site, taking 17.6 percent of downstream traffic. After visiting Times+, a quarter of visitors head back to The Times site itself. Telegraph.co.uk is proving the next most popular destination for people who turn away… But there are no major beneficiaries from The Times’ move. FT.com and Sun Online each increased share following the registration wall’s erection, according to Hitwise’s figures – but only to levels they had enjoyed previously

http://paidcontent.co.uk/article/419-times-traffic-has-dropped-but-nobodys-gaining/

Ten thousand subscribe to El Mundo paid for news application in 3 months

More than 10,000 people have signed up for Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo’s paid news application for the Internet since it was launched at the beginning of March, the company said Sunday. The application, called Orbyt (www.orbyt.es), provides subscribers with full access to the paper edition of the centre-right newspaper as well as a range of other services including archives, video reports and news commentary. The service costs EUR 14.99 per month or EUR 0.60 per day. El Mundo has continued to provide free access to the content of its website (www.elmundo.es) which is the world’s most visited Spanish-language media site, drawing visitors from Spain as well as across Latin America. The site, which is frequently updated by a team of 20 journalists, publishes shorter versions of articles from the paper edition. The newspaper expects the number of subscribers to its paid news application to get a boost from the launch of an application for Apple’s iPad tablet computer which hit stores in Spain on Friday. El Mundo, controlled by Italy’s top publisher RCS MediaGroup which also issues Italy’s biggest-selling daily Corriere della Sera, is the first – and so far only – major daily in Spain with a paid news application.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iRmJRpKM8FVkqzwkZzJNG8nkHLIg

The new Times and Sunday Times go live – paywall means see all or see nothing – no aliases on the comment section either

The new websites of The Times and Sunday Times went live Tuesday for a free trial period ahead of the adoption of an all-or-nothing paywall. The sites will be free to view to those who register for around a month, after which all content except the homepages will go behind a paywall, rendering it invisible to search engines. This paywall big bang is far more ambitious than existing paywalls at titles such as the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal which allow limited free access and let casual browsers to view articles via search engines like Google. In another radical departure, the sites will only allow subscribers to comment under their real names. Those wishing to comment anonymously will have to make a case to editorial staff for doing so. For the Sunday Times it will be the first time the title has had a standalone website. Around 35 additional staff have been taken on to produce thesundaytimes.co.uk, which is more visual and magazine-like than thetimes.co.uk – that site more closely resembles the print edition. This week’s launches will mark the first step in News Corporation proprietor Rupert Murdoch’s bid to charge for content across all his newspaper titles. The Sun and News of the World are set to follow later this year.

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=1&storycode=45494&c=1

The Times and The Sunday Times unveil new-look websites

The Times and the Sunday Times have today unveiled their new-look websites ahead of their conversion next month to a paid-for access model. The revamped websites, Thetimes.co.uk and Thesundaytimes.co.uk will replace the combined site, Timesonline.co.uk.

The move marks the first time The Times newspaper brands have boasted separate sites and comes amid a battle among newspaper publishers to monetise their digital offerings. The websites will be accessible for registered users for an introductory four-week period, before the paywalls are put in place. Registered users must be 18 and over before they are permitted to access the sites.

The sites boast new features, which the titles believe will give them stand-out from rivals. These include live interviews on The Times site, and a fast-track booking site on The Sunday Times site. The two new websites have a more conservative look than the Times Online site, which will be phased out.

From 1 June, a charge of £1 a day or £2 a week will be introduced for access to both sites. Access to the digital services will also be included in the seven-day subscriptions of print customers to The Times and The Sunday Times.  Articles on The Times and Sunday Times’ sites will not appear in searches by Google and other search engines. The sites will only display their respective homepages and not the articles, to search engines.

News International has not disclosed specific subscriber targets, though it is undoubtedly prepared for a major drop in user numbers of its websites.  Payment for the sites is to be made by direct debit and the £2-a-week charge will auto-renew, which is not the case for the daily charge. James Harding, editor of The Times, said: “The site will include live interviews with the people who shape the news and exclusive video – giving readers the opportunity to get more from their favourite sections.  This is just the start. We will continue to add new features to ensure that the innovation that has been central to The Times for 225 years, continues into the future.”

Separately, Roger Alton, the former editor of the Observer and the Independent, is to join the Times as joint executive editor. Alton left the Independent last month (May) following its purchase by Alexander Lebedev, the Russian millionare.

http://www.brandrepublic.com/BrandRepublicNews/News/1005441/Times-Sunday-Times-unveil-new-look-websites/?DCMP=EMC-DailyNewsBulletin

Guardian editor forecasts ‘vault of darkness’ for The Times

Alan Rusbridger and John Witherow sparred over their respective free and paid-for online journalism models last night, but were united in saying their current printing presses will be their last.  The rival editors were participating in a BBC Radio 4 debate staged only weeks before The Times and Witherow’s Sunday Times begin enforcing an online subscription regime of £1 per day and £2 per week

According to Witherow, the new Sunday Times site will be free for a month before the paywall goes up between internet users and the editorial.   Witherow admitted the move, instigated by News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch, would decimate the Times’ online readership by “easily” more than 90% but argued it would be “perilous” to continue to rely totally on online advertising revenues.

The free model pursued by most newspapers, including Rusbridger’s Guardian, would lead to “poorer and poorer” journalism in the long term, Witherow claimed. “The point of [charging online subscriptions] is to make money so we can invest in journalism. Pay journalists decent salaries, send them places, get better reporting,” he said, having earlier pointed out it cost The Times a million pounds per year to maintain a Baghdad correspondent.   “The danger of this other model is that gradually the journalism will diminish, it will get poorer and poorer, you won’t be able to afford things, you won’t be able to do things and so everybody is poorer as a result.”

However, Rusbridger questioned the significance of the revenues the Times and Sunday Times could make from what he guessed would be in the region of 60,000 to 100,000 online subscribers compared to Guardian.co.uk’s 32 million users. “That’s two or three weeks’ revenue in terms of cover price. That’s useful revenue, I can see why people are trying it, but it’s not a game changer. It will be interesting if it succeeds but we shouldn’t kid ourselves that this is going to be the panacea.”

Rusbridger’s prediction elicited the response from Witherow that he would be “disappointed” with 60,000 subscribers, but the Sunday Times editor refrained from giving his own estimate of the number of future paying users. Witherow later said News International was “going full out to make it work” and did not yet have a plan B if it did not. For his part Rusbridger professed that while staying free was the best way forward journalistically for The Guardian, he welcomed the experimentation from The Times.

“The truth is that nobody knows – John doesn’t know, I don’t know – how this is going to end up. It’s a good thing that he’s experimenting so we’ll try different models and end up learning something from both.” However, though claiming it would be crazy to be “fundamentalist” about staying free if The Times succeeded, the Guardian editor went on to nail his colours to the mast by saying “if you erect a paywall around your content you kind of go into a vault of darkness”. He believed openness to and collaboration with the wider internet “ecosystem” were key assets in future journalism.

Rusbridger bolstered his argument by claiming The Guardian’s digital advertising revenues were up around 100% in a year, in contrast to Witherow’s admission of falling revenues. The Guardian editor warned The Times faced competition not just from other newspaper websites but from specialist free websites such as News Corporation’s own Book Army.

“The competition isn’t from the bundled newspaper sites, it’s from the people who have a much lower cost model who are going to do it for free,” he said. “The moment we get behind a paywall, they’re going to say ‘thanks very much, that’s what we were praying for’.”

Rusbridger also noted that Murdoch’s Sky News website would still provide free news competition, memorably saying: “Rupert Murdoch is having it both ways at the moment and he would as readily stab you in the back as the front.”    

One issue the two men did agree on is that neither newspaper group will need new printing presses. Rusbridger said: “I would miss print … but if it means that print goes and Guardian journalism continues digitally, that’s not the worst thing in the world.”

“Our last printing presses [which were installed in 2005 with the switch to the Berliner format] – I had a feeling in my bones that they might be the last printing presses.” Pushed by host Steve Hewlett for a date by which The Guardian will not exist in print, Rusbridger said: “I was thinking 20 years at that point. I think that might be telescoping quite dramatically now.”

Witherow seemed to suggest a longer timescale, albeit a similar sentiment: “We’ve got new presses [installed in 2008] that were supposed to last 30 or 40 years. We rather assumed the same thing, that these would be the last. Things are speeding up now and for us to predict how long print will be around is very difficult.

“My theory is it’s going to be a considerable time, especially with something like the Sunday Times, which has magazines and is a tactile experience.” An edited version of the debate can be heard today on Radio 4’s ‘The Media Show’ at 1.30pm

http://www.brandrepublic.com/BrandRepublicNews/News/1004140/Guardian-editor-forecasts-vault-darkness-Times/?DCMP=EMC-DailyNewsBulletin

AP’s News Registry To Catch Content Thieves Debuts July 14

The Associated Press’ News Registry, the bundle of software that will tag and track AP content on other sites to make sure that it is not being used without permission or payment, is launching on July 14. More than 200 member newspapers partners signed up for the Registry’s beta test since it was announced last April. By July 14, the slated launch date, more than 600 publishers will be using the system. The AP and its member newspapers argue that unauthorized use of their content is costing them tens of millions of dollars in potential advertising revenue. They hope the News Registry will help them police infractions from other news sites, blogs and other online content hubs

http://www.businessinsider.com/ap-developing-a-premium-football-2010-4

Murdoch’s Times to offer daily energetic and purposeful mass debates behind its controversial paid for firewall

The Times is to offer daily live debates and discussions as part of a range of incentives to encourage readers to pay for access to its website. News International contacted preview subscribers this week to disclose a few of the new features it plans to bring in when it introduces paywall barriers to the websites of The Times and Sunday Times newspapers in June. In addition to daily discussions with political, cultural, business and sporting figures Times Online, which will be relaunched as Thetimes.co.uk, will offer greater interaction with its reporters. The planned launch of a stand-alone website for the Sunday Times will see it introduce a “culture planner”. The interactive feature promises weekly events calendars, critics recommending “must-sees”, video previews, a ticket booking facility and remote TV recording through the site – presumably with a link to Sky’s set-top technology. In the promotional material News International also said its new Times website would allow readers the opportunity to “become part of the debate and engage with the news”. The publisher said it will also allow readers to “ask our journalists about their stories” while an OpEd Live feature will let “columnists and contributors bring their comment pieces to life online” however it does not go into detail on how these new features may work. News International announced last month that from June readers would be charged GBP 1 for a day’s access to the websites of its quality newspapers or GBP 2 for a week’s subscription. Payment will allow access to both websites

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=1&storycode=45358