Returning again to the financial plight of the print news media, online communications guru Neville Hobson has flagged up a study of how 30 publishers are now charging for their online content. The research, which was carried out by Alastair Bruce, content manager for MSN UK, is pretty lengthy at 61 pages, but many of the main points are covered in the first dozen.
Here are a few notable items:
- Of the three main charging models, ‘freemium’ (which combines free and subscription-only content) is by far the commonest, but metered charging (as practised by the FT and, from 2011, the New York Times) is gaining ground.
- The use of paywalls can restrict how easily relevant articles are found by search engines; however, the high ‘bounce rate’ (i.e. the short time spent on a site) by search engine-referred visitors makes some publishers relaxed about losing this audience – they stand to make more money from loyal readers.
- Some publishers continue to offer content for free and use other ways to generate revenue. For example, The Scotsman sells its photography, National Geographic focuses on merchandising and Bloomberg offers professional services.
Lastly, Bruce shares a nifty way to dodge the paywall on FT.com (but says it will be gone by Q2 2010)!