Tag Archives: The Times

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.


GNM’s Brooks: Times to keep 10% of readers would be ‘breathtakingly successful’

Publishers looking to paywalls, mobile or the iPad to singularly replace lost print revenues are set to be disappointed, according to Guardian News & Media’s Tim Brooks.

“There is no silver bullet,” warned the 52-year-old managing director who is, like the rest of the industry, following News International’s paywall experiment with great interest. But, he believes, unlike this week’s reports that claimed The Times retained two-thirds of its online traffic, actual readership is likely to settle at a fraction of that.

Brooks said: “We did our own calculations around paywalls in the early part of last year and the indications we’ve had is that the assumptions we put into our model are actually similar to the assumptions that they’re working on.” Prior to erecting the paywall, John Witherow, editor of The Times, appeared to be under no illusions when he admitted it could cost the brand more than 90% of its audience. But Brooks said “to keep 10% would be astronomically brilliant”. He explained: “If you think about click-through rates and you think about conversion rates on click-through rates, and that’s what marketing people are used to dealing with, and then you multiply that by an order of magnitude for the fact that you’ve got a strong brand like The Times. 10% would be breathtakingly successful.”

GNM’s leader has tried to avoid being drawn on the actual number he believes his rival is looking at, but goes on to use the example of evaluating the loss of 95% of readership. Brooks suggested the Murdochs have a more ambitious strategy in mind than generating online subscriptions and pointed to James Murdoch’s MacTaggart Lecture last summer, in which he stated his belief that there’s only one media market now. e also mentioned News Corp’s move to buy the 61% of BSkyB it does not currently own as soon as David Cameron came to power. He said: “You can see a picture that they may be painting of the future where they have a sort of ‘walled garden’ of Sky / News [Corp] wholly-owned content offerings, including their newspapers.”

 The Guardian remains open to paywalls

For his part, Brooks remains decidedly pragmatic about the possibilities around paywalls. Unlike The Guardian’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, there’s no talk of Rupert Murdoch “sleep walking to oblivion” or philosophical musings about the “democratisation of the web”. For Brooks, the equation just doesn’t currently fit with GNM’s goal. He said: “We looked at the difference it will make to our net revenues, and we looked at the loss of over 90% of our audience for the gain of a very small percentage of additional revenue.

 “For News [International], journalism is a means to an end, and the end is profit. For us it’s different, journalism is our end. “It’s not a means to anything… and you would need very powerful journalism arguments for us to close our journalism off from 95% of people who are accessing it currently.” Interestingly, this altruism does not appear to extend to GNM’s other outlets, including the newspaper itself or its iPhone app, which achieved more than 100,000 downloads in its first 10 weeks and, at a cost of £2.39, raked in more than £240,000.

 Brooks reasoned it is because of the open nature of the web: “You have to think about the nature of the platform that you’re trading on. So if you think about newspapers, typically, it is a closed platform. “That is one reason why we felt confident about charging for our iPhone app, the habit of paying for things through iTunes is an established habit.”  But those who believe that the Guardian is somehow a devout champion of an open, free internet should take note. If expectations were to shift, GNM’s leader has no qualms in changing direction.

 Noting Google’s trialling of “newspass”, a system that promises micro-payments as well as long-term subscriptions through a friction-free paywall, Brooks admitted: “If the ecology of the system changes, we’ll change our behaviour. We’re not King Canutes here. “We just believe at the moment, people don’t expect to pay for things on the web, by and large won’t pay for things on the web, and we’re not a big enough animal to change people’s behaviour.”


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


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.


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.


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


Will Murdoch’s paywall work?

All eyes are on Rupert Murdoch’s great paywall experiment? It’s the subject of my London Evening Standard column today.

It is also the subject of Philip Stone’s column today on the Follow the Media site. He writes: “Put yourself in Murdoch’s shoes and you could well ask yourself, ‘What do I have to lose?’ The Times and Sunday Times just announced horrific 2009 results, losing some £80m between them… So for those particular properties it doesn’t take a genius to see the current business model is smashed.”

Stone argues that “it’s about time someone had the guts to go ahead and really try it [charging for online content]… and the man with printer’s ink running through his veins is giving it a go… if he can succeed he might just save an entire industry, not just his own two newspapers.”

He speculates that if 5% of the current 1.2m daily visitors to The Times’s site (60,000) agree to pay the £2-a-week subscription, it will result in revenue of £6.24m a year. Then he writes:

So then the big question becomes why should someone pay to read The Times and The Sunday Times online when they can read The Guardian and other UK newspapers, let alone the BBC site, for free?

That one is not so easy to answer. The New York Times found with its Times Select system of a couple of years back that people were willing to pay to read some of their best columnists. Do the Murdoch newspapers have such columnists that are a ‘must read’?…

And that is going to be the deal-decider. What content will The Times and Sunday Times have that just can’t be found elsewhere for free?

After pointing out that the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal have successful pay models because people gladly pay for business and financial information, Stone suggests a “bundling” of Murdoch’s WSJ with The Times/Sunday Times.


Le Figaro unveils paid-content strategy

Le Figaro, the French national newspaper, has revealed details of how it plans to charge for content, but says the news portions of its website, lefiaro.fr, will remain free. It plans to raise revenues from its most loyal readers by offering services such as newsletters, access to its online archive, the best of The New York Times translated into French and access to a digital version of the newspaper available from 3am each morning. The paid-for system builds on Le Figaro’s Mon Figaro feature, which launched three years ago and allows users to create their own profile and personalised features when visiting the site. Those signing up to the subscription packages will be able to connect with other Mon Figaro members, in effect creating a social network. The newspaper is offering three packages: Mon Figaro Connect, which is free but requires users to sign up; Mon Figaro Select, at EUR 8 a month or EUR 79 a year; and Mon Figaro Business, for EUR 15 a month or EUR 149 a year. The introduction of a paywall comes as newspapers in the UK also look at how they can turn their online popularity into profits. In particular, Rupert Murdoch, owner of The Sun and The Times, has vowed to stop giving away content for free online. Le Figaro follows in the footsteps of two German newspapers, Berliner Morgenpost and Hamburger Abendblatt, which introduced paywalls for readers last week.


Times Online blocks news aggregator

News International is blocking the news aggregator NewsNow.co.uk from linking to Times Online content.

News International has told the aggregator that it may no longer link to any content on Times Online, and imposed a technical block by altering its robots.txt, the file through which a website can ask search engines not to index its pages.

“News International has for some time been indicating to us that it would like us to refrain from linking to their content,” said Struan Bartlett, managing director and chairman of NewsNow, who is sponsoring a campaign called right2link.

“We have been trying to solicit from them their reason for wanting us to stop, but not other search engines. They haven’t given us a reason that we understand.”

The move seems to be part of Times Online’s preparation for moving its content behind a paywall. News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch declared his intention to charge for newspaper content online last August, and the scheme is due to start with the relaunch of Times Online in spring.

Another online cuttings service, Meltwater, is currently taking the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) to a copyright tribunal over whether or not newspapers can control the use of their links. The NLA is owned by eight national newspaper publishers, among them News International and Guardian News & Media, which publishes MediaGuardian.co.uk.

In December 2009, NewsNow decided to pull links to many national newspaper websites from its subscription service following attempts by the NLA to impose a fee structure. But its free news aggregation site, newsnow.co.uk, continued to include the links.

Yesterday the NLA announced that it is suspending invoicing for the new web licences for end users that it brought into effect as of 1 January. “We are confirming that licensing is effective from January 1 2010 and that charges will be incurred from that date – but we are suspending invoicing until the tribunal has ruled,” Andrew Hughes, its commercial director, said.

News International has yet to comment about any plans it may have to block other aggregators.


European rights court rules to protect press sources

Five media companies won a ruling at the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday recognising the right of journalists to protect anonymous sources. Four British daily newspapers – the Financial Times (FT), the Independent, the Guardian and the Times – and Reuters news agency appealed to Strasbourg after British courts ordered them to hand over documents to Belgian brewing firm Interbrew. The documents would have allowed Interbrew to identify the source of a leak to the press about a planned takeover bid for South African Breweries (SAB). The Strasbourg judges ruled unanimously that the order to hand over the documents amounted to a violation of the media companies’ right to freedom of expression, under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In its judgment, the court stressed the “chilling effect” of journalists being seen to help in the identification of anonymous sources.