Adam Penenberg's latest column about the online media world takes a look at the "balancing act" Salon has between fee-based and advertising-supported content. While most sites seem to decide to go with one or the other, Salon (for a while now) has the option of either paying a subscription fee for access, or forcing people to "watch" (er, have running in the background while you do something else) a commercial ad for a "day pass" to the site. The folks at Salon say it's working out quite well. The advertisers are happy with it (the ads apparently perform better than regular ads) and visitors who don't want to pay, don't have to. It's an interesting model, but as Penenberg points out towards the end of the article, the obstacles still make it more difficult for Salon to be a part of the conversation. However, since there's no full block on content, they're not taken entirely out of the conversation. The fact that their content is often unique certainly benefits them, but it's not clear if this is really a sustainable model either. Still, it seems better than some of the alternatives.
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