My posts about: paywall
The News of the World is cloaking its stories - showing Google one thing to get into Google News and then showing searchers a registration page.
The reporting may have been lazy, but I've got hold of the actual breakdown of the Times paywall numbers. Including the joint digital/print subs (despite not knowing how many are active), that means they've got 150,000 subscribers to their digital products.
The Guardian is reporting the success of the Times paywall figures: "The hard figures for online subscribers to the The Times and the Sunday Times ... News International announced this morning that 105,000 people have paid to access either the papers' websites and/or the iPad andf Kindle apps."
This figure looks completely meaningless to me. People "paying to access" include those, like me, who have paid for a 24-hour subscription once.
That does not mean we are subscribers.
There have been several attempts to work out how many people are paying to access the Times website now its gone behind a paywall. My estimate is: 46,154 a day. This is based on the number of comments on stories compared to other news sites.
I was invited to a preview of the Times / Sunday Times paywall tonight, which revealed some interesting things they're planning.
It also threw up a number of questions - which no doubt they'll be mulling over before the new site goes live. The most difficult one for me is why users would want to pay for two different websites covering the same subjects?
I got an email yesterday about what the Times will be offering once the paywall is up. Here's a screenshot of the main bit.
Johnston Press is dropping the paywall on its local papers, with the number of subscribers said to be in single figures. People have already started to draw conclusions from this.
However, my view is that the Johnston Press experiment tells us precisely nothing about anything. The reason? Johnston Press had implemented its paywall in the worst way possible. All you can learn from this is that a paywall that makes no attempt to sell the content won't sell any subscriptions.
If Murdoch wants to put the Sunday Times or the Sun behind a paywall but still wanted Google to index his content, he would have to join first-click free.
If he decides the Sun is really the Wapping News Journal and joins Google Scholar, then the rules would be different. He could have his content indexed without having to let anyone see it unless they paid a subscription. On top of which, Google would give his content priority if was the original source of a story.
This roundup of what some paywalls look like when you hit them illustrates that publishers - and Johnston Press in particular - need to massively improve the way they promote the benefits of subscribing ...
New Media Age is experimenting with first click free - which always raises a troubling question for me. How do you persuade your users that you're "confident this content ... is worth paying for" - when it transpires you give it away for free to every tom, dick or harry who arrives via Google? Just what are we paying for?