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Charging for online content

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Wednesday April 22, 2009 )

Journalism Online will be providing online content publishers with ready-made tools to charge fees for access to content. Tried before and, with some exceptions, pretty much failed right? Well, these guys have a twist.

Lots of publishers have tried charging for content and often it just doesn’t work out as people balk at the friction of having their reading interrupted, but more likely in my opinion is the fact that folks can likely get the same content somewhere else.

However, according to the New York Times, the Journalism Online service will offer an “all you can read” subscription that would allow access to multiple publications; the target groups at this point being newspapers and magazines.

Now where have I heard of this approach before?

Ah yes, that’s right – the adult site industry – you pay your $X and get access to a slew of sites; or so I’m told :). This isn’t something new, they’ve been doing it for years.

In some ways I quite admire the adult industry in that it does tend to be a pioneer in online marketing. I’m pretty sure the sector was the first to use popups and while they overdid it, the concept of popup advertising remains solid. Sure, people complain about it, but it works; particularly for boosting subscriptions.

Anyway, back to Journalism Online; no publishers have signed on as yet as clients, but there has been interest. For the unlimited subscriptions they are tossing around a figure of about 15 bucks a month.

That may be a little high, but I think this concept would work if enough big names joined in.

In fact, it may also work for smaller quality sites if enough sites joined in a network. While people might not want to pay enough to get access to premium content on a single site to make it worthwhile, if they are presented with the opportunity of access to a ton of good sites rolled into the fee; that might be the game changer.

There could be a good opening for a network to represent the smaller guys perhaps? There could be all sorts of verticals.

Nice idea and I wish Journalism Online well with it; although I do wonder where they got the concept from ;).


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