In the last ten years, Britain’s daily newspapers have shed 4,250,000 copies from their print circulations. But since the Telegraph alone now has over 4.6m monthly online users, it’s not hard to see where that readership has gone.

Of course, what online editions can’t provide is the hard cash that traditional newspapers used to generate. Even the best-selling Telegraph now routinely makes a loss.

So: paywalls, mobile apps, digital ads? As a media owner, how can you possibly make online newspapers pay?

Closer to the Holy Grail than most is the New York Times, one of the first big newspapers to adopt a paywall. Their revenue and profits have both now stabilised, results which have been succinctly analysed by Frédéric Filloux.

His headline conclusions:

Digital advertising is struggling

Online ad sales are now in decline, even for a massive brand like the NYT. With good metrics available, that can only be because they’re not delivering the results that online ad sales teams are promising. Ad blocker, anyone?

Print is still alive

A sizeable reservoir of readers is prepared to pay for the paper edition, even at a significantly higher price. He notes though that print advertising is drying up; but is that down to hard numbers, or has it simply fallen out of fashion?

Paywalls work – but only if they’re done right

‘Free’ is always hard to compete with. Ask the music industry, or anyone who’s gone up against Google. But it is possible – as long as you add value, or have significant brand value to begin with.

Interestingly, making their paywall ‘semi-permeable’ – allowing some inward links to work, so as not to hide the product within – was clearly a vital part of their strategy.


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