Online newspaper registration is a bad business idea. We've been among those pointing this out for years. It's a pretty simple cost/benefit equation. On the "cost" side, you cut your visitors significantly as they don't want to bother with the hassle of registering -- even if it's free. On the "benefit" side, you might get some data about your visitors that you can used to sell higher priced advertising. However, that benefit is greatly dampened by the fact that studies have shown plenty of people enter fake info, making that data dirty data, that won't actually help very much. Yet, online news sites continue to insist that they need to have users register, even if it's doing more harm than good. The amount of ad revenue from the higher traffic is likely to outweigh (by a large measure) any increase in CPM from offering advertisers dirty data. It looks like some news organizations are finally recognizing this. The Houston Chronicle has now announced that they're dropping their online registration requirement to access many parts of their site. They say it's due to "user pleas," but you can bet that it was a business decision, where someone finally weighed the pros and cons, and realized why registration didn't make sense. Hopefully, other news organizations start to do the same.
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