Business 2.0 Locks Up Their Content

from the bad-decision dept

I had noticed last night that Business 2.0 was doing some weird things. All of the articles I read had only one or two paragraphs on the first page, and then you needed to click to the next page to read the rest. Each time I clicked on "next", I got a page not found. That's why, for all the Business 2.0 stories I posted recently, I used the "printer" copy. The front page copy was useless with only a single paragraph. Now I understand why. Continuing with AOL-Time Warner's "walled garden" approach - Business 2.0 has locked up all their content. You now need to pay to read the articles - even the ones I linked to just a few hours ago. I apologize for the inconvenience if you click through. I had no idea this was happening, but it pretty much guarantees that I (and many others) won't be linking to Business 2.0 articles any more. This lessens the value of Business 2.0 to its advertisers. The content there was often good, but not worth paying for - and if people can't access it online, it takes them out of the realm of useful publications. This is going in the wrong direction. They're taking themselves out of the debate in a short-term (short-sighted) attempt to make money now. It also means their content won't be available on search engines or linked via other news sites and blogs. All this to encourage just a few people to sign up for subscriptions? I doubt that the number of incremental subscription will make up for the vast decrease in page views leading to lost ad sales. Nice to see that AOL-Time Warner still doesn't understand the internet.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2003 @ 1:51pm

    Do The Artihmetic

    You said: I doubt that the number of incremental subscription will make up for the vast decrease in page views leading to lost ad sales. Nice to see that AOL-Time Warner still doesn't understand the internet.

    If you're an AOL member, the links still work. Lemme see, the total page views from outside AOL for Business 2.0 were N, resulting in ad revenue of X. AOL gets intangible value Y in good will from the internet page views. Shifting to subscriptions will decrease the page views and therefore decrease X in favor of subscription fees.

    Oh, I'm sorry... I'm probably boring you by doing a cost benefits analysis. Well, too bad, that's how AOL does things now. It's hard to satisfy you, Mike- either you're publicizing the sensationalized accounts of AOL's past, or criticizing the boring business decisions they're making now, but without the actual numbers...

    Last time I checked, everyone's Internet business model took a pounding and is trying to recover. Doing the arithmetic ain't sexy, but it's got to be done.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Mike (profile), Jul 2nd, 2003 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Do The Artihmetic

    No, no, no. I want you to do the arithmetic. If you read this site often enough, you know that I actually am annoyed at people who don't do cost-benefit calculations.

    It's just that it seems obvious to me that the cost-benefit equation on this one looks dreadful. How many new subscriptions do you really think they're going to get by cutting this content off? The only subscriptions you can count are ones that come because people want this particular content. I'd say that number is going to be very small.

    However, the traffic decrease on the Business 2.0 website will be cut by a very large number (similar attempts by other sites suggests: 90%). Then, calculate the value lost to advertisers by having 10% of the previous number of viewers. That drops as well, so the actual ad revenues drop by at least 90%, probably more.

    Do you really think the few incremental subscriptions make up for a 95% drop in advertising revenue? I doubt it.

    Furthermore, as they get taken off the internet, they'll get much less interest and attention, making it harder for them to seem relevant, and harder to achieve new subscriptions.

    All in all, I did the cost-benefit calculation and it looks terrible. If you have different numbers, I'd love to hear them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2003 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Do The Artihmetic

    I suppose it depends on how much revenue they can generate via page views vs. what they expect to get from subscriptions.

    I'm not familiar with the way that the pricing works, but I notice that the techdirt site doesn't keep itself afloat via pagview advertising.

    Perhaps they ran the same calculation, but they expect that subscribers, being real customers who pay for content, are going to be a more reliable revenue stream then advertisers paying for pagviews.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2003 @ 11:57pm

    Re: Do The Artihmetic

    I am an MSN employee - I am quite amused by AOL's new strategy. Our ad business has SKYROCKETED this year (there are articles on CNET about this) while AOL continues to lose more and more money.

    Mike is right - they just don't get the Internet whatsoever (although with MSN's pop-up and rich media ads, one could say the same about us!)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2003 @ 3:32am

    NY Times and SJ Mercury model seems best to me

    NY Times and SJ Mercury model seems best to me. Their stuff is free for a week, then charged for.

    Simple, easy to understand. Read the daily paper and you don't pay. Search for it later and you do pay.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Brian J., Jul 3rd, 2003 @ 4:51am

    Yeah, I noticed it, too.

    I sometimes grab the URL of a particular story while I am browsing at work and mail it home so I can blog about the story. Between the time I grabbed a URL for a blog entry and the time I wrote it yesterday, Business 2.0 slammed the door.

    As a result of their locking content, I won't get to it, so I won't read the Business 2.0 Web site, and I won't subscribe.

    I guess I should consider myself duly punished.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Chris, Jul 3rd, 2003 @ 5:40am

    http://odonnellweb.com

    Magazines don't really make a profit on subscribtion revenue anyway. It's just a subsidy for the ad revenue in the magazine that pays the bills. My Business 2.0 subscribtion expires sometime soon - I think its $12 annual. There is no way that actually covers the cost of the magazine and a profit margin. This isn't about selling more magazine subscribtions, I think its about selling more AOL subsciptions. I believe AOL-TW thinks they can drive AOL revenue by making it the only portal to Time's content. They are doing it with People Magazine too.

    It won't work. In the meantime, I'm not renewing Business 2.0. How well can they really cover the busines world if they are this clueless?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    rax, Jul 3rd, 2003 @ 7:29am

    Re: NY Times and SJ Mercury model seems best to me

    NY Times and SJ Mercury model seems best to me. Their stuff is free for a week, then charged for.
    Simple, easy to understand. Read the daily paper and you don't pay. Search for it later and you do pay.

    IMO, I'm more likely to subscribe to a news site if it offers hardcopy as part of the subscription. I like the system that The Economist uses: Post a few articles for free, and require a subscription to read the rest. If your a subscriber to the magazine you get it all free. Or you can purchase individual articles cheaply.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Kai, Jul 3rd, 2003 @ 11:58am

    Google AdWords

    At the bottom of the page, there's a google context ad for AOL--that's funny. If it were really smart, there would be an ad for MSN instead!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2003 @ 7:56am

    Re: NY Times and SJ Mercury model seems best to me

    The Economist model is very good imho (disclaimer: I worked on Economist site). You get plenty of very good content for free. You get 'premium' content which you can subscribe and get access to (or just buy the print magazine if you see something interesting). The archive is free for subscribers, but non-subscribers can use micro-payments to pay just for specific articles. There is just that much more granularity of choice involved so that you can pick the option that suits you, as opposed to the all or nothing approach of some other magazines. Their model has been in place for at least 5yrs.

    Phillip.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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