Want to Charge for Digital Content?
Paid content—what's the problem? The London Times reportedly lost nearly 90 percent of its online readers when it introduced paid content in July. Does this mean that paid content for newspapers and magazines is doomed to failure? Maybe. Or maybe not. After all, how can newspaper and magazine publishers expect their readers, who have enjoyed free online content over the past 10 years, to suddenly and willingly pay for the same content?
Patience is the key, and good coordination. The challenge is to clearly communicate to readers that online content is also worth their money. Because let's face it: If something is free, it must not be worth anything.
As long as only a handful of publishers switch to "all paid" content like the Times did, while others offer "all free" (the Times' competitor The Guardian even offers its readers the print edition free of charge) and the majority offers a mixture of free and paid content (the "freemium" model), customers will continue to say "no" to all paid content. Without changing the way readers look at online content, paid offers will remain on the fringe of online media.
How can you solve the paid content problem?
Where is the publishing market headed? Which model will attract the most readers and generate the highest profits? No one seems to know right now. And that's why every publisher should systematically analyze its targets, opportunities and the impact of paid content offers. Publishers who complete these critical steps will be better prepared to actively shape the market. If they don't, they run the risk of being left in the wake of the sector's developments.
To successfully push paid content, publishers must do much more than simply stick a price tag on their online content offers. They must also analyze what they offer and to whom they offer it: the target groups. The following steps can help develop a coherent paid content offer: