AOP Head of Research & Insight, Tim Cain
, was recently interviewed by Journalism.co.uk
, about metered paywalls in online media. His interview appears between 8mins 30secs - 12mins
in the podcast above, and you can listen to this directly simply by clicking play
Tim was initially asked for his views on what looks to be a growing faith in the industry about online payment models. We have here broken down all of his answers into sub-sections to highlight different topics.
Era of Experimentation in Paid Content
I think we’re definitely seeing openness to experimentation. For example, from our own survey of members we know that let’s say 9/10 publishers are looking at ways to monetise audiences in some shape or form beyond say advertising. That’s not necessarily in terms of just charging for content but it’s finding certain ways in which people will buy content from them, and I think that the more we see models spring up internationally the more it does give people some sort of confidence to take part.
Growth of Mobile
A big driver has really been the growth of the mobile and the tablet marketplaces, because I think were there has been success it’s been in delivering content in a shape and form that people can access easily and conveniently and so while apps vary massively in the levels of sales that they have, they’ve been a decent way of dabbling with the experimentation around pay to access content
He added that the metered paywall model in particular, such as is also used by the Financial Times in the UK, is proving of particular interest.
The numbers that I’ve seen coming out of the New York Times recently suggest that they’ve been able to convert a fairly decent size of their audience to paying to accept their content and I think that has rippled through into the UK market.
The model around metering is the one that’s the really interesting one here. Obviously we’ve got the Times who led the way here with their full subscription model, but I think we’ve seen an emphasis moving towards a more gradual effect where metering is seen as the way to introduce people to buying content and it certainly seems that that approach has got a lot more traction now.
But he added that that does not mean that is the answer for everyone…
Horses for courses
I think it will be horses for courses in all honesty. I think what we’re seeing now is the news publishers moving towards trying to adopt those models to some degree. I don’t know whether with a different type of content you would get the same kind of reaction. I think obviously where paywalls or any kind of paid access works most effectively is when the content is actually unique or high value or bespoke content, so clearly the B2B market has led the way here with forms of content that is mission critical for business users. I guess you could argue a particular analysis or a particular view might be strongly held by many but I guess one of the challenges for the news environment generally is that there is just so much access to news content available and so the question I suppose is will people still seek out the free alternative or actually will they be convinced that there is a value to be had by going with a particular brand. So I think we will see more of it and ultimately news organisations are fairly expensive businesses to run, we’ve all seen each news publisher talk about the cost base of their operation, they’ve cut that cost base in many cases quite considerably, they’re looking at a return on the investment in creating content, and they’re testing the water. I think for some there will be success, for others it might be a little more difficult.