Left Bay’s Musings on the Media

Searching for answers in sales and marketing

Why Pay Walls Won’t Save Newspapers

I’m reading an online New York Times article about how “Pay Walls Alone Won’t Save Newspapers.” Of course I’m not paying anything to read this piece, or any other, as I peruse today’s headlines. But will I in the future? Author Eric Pfanner argues that though the case for charging for online content seems pretty clear, “if only because publishers have nothing to lose.“ But pay walls, he predicts, will only likely be a “transitional step.” Why? There are too many advertising dollars to lose, and too few people willing to pay for content.

Look to the music industry for an analogy, he says: In spite of iTunes and laws against unauthorized sharing of digital music, industry analysts suggest that 95% of music is still pirated “and record industry sales are still falling at double-digit rates.”

Pfanner says that while pay walls may be a start, few people are going to want to dozens of newspapers online. Instead, it might be possible to get people to pay if access to newspapers were bundled with other things people want from the Internet, like “films, music, games, and social networking.”

I think we’re going to have to try lots of different options. But what we’re creating at Kachingle seems the most simple of all. Erect no pay walls. Continue allowing articles to be freely distributed in order to maximize advertising. At the same time, put the power to choose to pay in the hands of the users. Put aside a fix amount of money each month. Allocate it fairly by the percentage of daily visits to Kachingle-enabled sites.

Above all, make it easy to use.

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