A new paywall doesn’t come for free

Interesting comment by Peter Preston on paywalls in The Observer online today: A new paywall doesn’t come for free

The New York Times is apparently spending $13m on advertising its new paywall.

Mashable.com published this last month on NYT’s readership pre and post-paywall. Here are the stats:


I thought this was a good point raised by Mashable:

“So here’s the big question: Is NYT‘s paywall a success or a failure? When it comes to this big-picture question, we still don’t have enough information to make a conclusion. The paywall simply hasn’t been around long enough and we don’t have the financial data to see whether the paywall has made up for the loss in advertising revenue. What do you think of the paywall? Is it the future of online news or will sites that use a paywall destined for a slow death?”

Information is a strange commodity – we expect it for free and yet it doesn’t come about for nothing. In my view, the paywall system is something we can’t yet analyse. The results won’t appear overnight. Or maybe even the next few years. I subscribe to The Economist as I find it’s easier for a copy to be delivered to my door than for me to remember to have to go and buy one every week. It’s cheaper too and I have access to their archives. Ease and convenience (and more/better information) is a strong point for paywalls for some of the world’s biggest news publications. I do think they’re strongly dependent on our use of technology and this is perhaps why we can’t quite garner their results. As devices such as the iPad become the norm, then maybe we’ll see that paywalls aren’t as doomed as some would suggest.

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