Traffic Collapses At Sites Where News Corp. Has Erected Pay Walls
Faced with a collapse in traffic to thetimes.co.uk, some advertisers have simply abandoned the site. Rob Lynam, head of press trading at the media agency MEC, whose clients include Lloyds Banking Group, Orange, Morrisons and Chanel, says, “We are just not advertising on it. If there’s no traffic on there, there’s no point in advertising on there.” Lynam says he has been told by News International insiders that traffic to The Times site has fallen by 90 per cent since the introduction of charges. “That was the same forecast they were giving us prior to registration and the paywall going up, so whether it’s a reflection on reality or not, I don’t know.”
I think everyone expected this, but Murdoch is pushing forward with plans to switch his other sites to paid access leading some to wonder what is really behind the change –
Some believe that News International is pursuing a more sophisticated strategy. “This is not a numbers game,” says Greg Hadfield, former head of digital development at Telegraph Media Group and now an executive at the media agency CogApp. “The Times and The Sunday Times have a near-unique opportunity to build a one-to-one communication with someone about whom they know their name, email and credit card number.”
Bradshaw too believes that “the strategy is more about gathering consumer information than selling content”, and suggests that News Corp’s desire to buy the whole of BSkyB may create opportunities for bundling multimedia packages for its subscriber base.
I don’t think anyone has accused Murdoch of being a stupid business man so there must be some chance of success but I refuse to patronize news sites that charge for access across the board.
“He’s trying to Europeanize us, and the Europeans are going the other way,” continues Ferlic, a former Democratic campaign donor who plans to vote Republican this year. “The entire American spirit is being broken.”
That pretty well says it all.