Why Requiring Registration Does More Harm Than Good For News Sites

from the diminishing-your-readership? dept

We’ve been discussing news site registration lately, and Digital Deliverance has a piece where they explain why it’s likely to backfire for almost all sites who try it. As we were just saying last week, sites that require registration and/or demographic info tend to get many fewer visitors and a ton of bogus data. As the Digital Deliverance piece points out, most sites aren’t even doing anything with that dirty data – so it’s completely useless. They’re getting fewer visitors and bad data they don’t even use for any reasonable purpose. This certainly doesn’t help them get more advertising, but the fewer readers does mean they’ll get less advertising. Doesn’t seem like such a smart strategy – and yet more sites seem to be doing it every day.

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Comments on “Why Requiring Registration Does More Harm Than Good For News Sites”

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Mathew says:


I don’t think most websites that do it are interested in the actual data that comes from it — although some bits (such as IP addresses) are worth something, and real e-mail addresses are good for mailing lists. I think most sites ask people to register because it requires some effort on their part, and even that small amount of effort makes them more valuable to advertisers. As a result, the site actually benefits even though the absolute number of users declines. It’s the same with charging for access – advertisers are willing to pay more for those eyeballs, which makes up for the dropoff in traffic even if the subscription revenues don’t.

LittleW0lf says:

Re: Re: registration

Do you really believe that advertisers pay that much more for those eyeballs?

Mike, I agree with Matthew, they are doing it because they can go to the advertisers and tell them “we have 30,000 registered users.” I doubt they get much more for it, but I seem to remember someone telling me that most advertisers now want the minimum distribution size of a webpage before they come up with a deal on an advertisement scheme.

I still agree with you that this is stupid. I’ve clicked “back” or closed the browser when pointed to a news story that required registration, and it wasn’t because I was interested in getting the info for free (I was genuinely interested in reading the article, and probably would have paid to read it.) I am registered with a bunch of sites, but I cannot remember the damn passwords and instead of going through the rigermaroo of getting my password reset or sent to me through email, I just move on. I quickly loose interest in a article I have to spend 20 minutes to get.

Most sites store my authentication info as a cookie, but I am careful with cookies, so sometimes that doesn’t even work. If they had an easier way to do this, I’d use them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: registration

I had to register on the NYT this week. Instead of a 30 something tech guy on the Left Coast, I was retired 93 year old female retired farmer in Texas. I forget the password and will re-register if there is anything else I find interesting (as the above commenter says, tracking the passwords, etc. just isn’t worth it and registering takes a minute or two).

My guess is that this isn’t all that common, so the data is pretty useless.

VonSkippy says:

Re: Re: Re: registration

Simple. On ALL sites that require registration, use: name = “name” and password = “password”. If you have a problem remembering those – please contact me about some realestate I have for sale. I’ve found many sites to already have that “user”. It’s not like it needs to be secure. Of course directed personal slander and profanity for names and passwords work as well, and might bring a small grin to the person who has to dredge thru those logs someday.

LittleW0lf says:

Re: Re: Re:2 registration

On ALL sites that require registration, use: name = “name” and password = “password”.

Good idea, but many of these sites don’t have that account, and I usually don’t even register, so I have no intention of making this account on the ones that don’t, but maybe others inclined to do so could instead.

However, how do you get around the occasional prankster that changes the password on you and then promptly forgets it? The account is no longer accessible and you cannot create a new one.

I forgot my password says:

The softening up process

I’ve always assumed that sites ask you to register so as to soften you up for the day they ask you to pay a subscription.

A subscription service has to ask for a logon. If they go straight from open access to subscription, they’re asking people to pay money for a more annoying service; if they’ve already conditioned you to the annoyance of logging on, that’s at least one less hurdle to overcome (they hope) in getting you to subscribe.

QWERTY says:

Dumb registration practices...

It annoys me quite a bit, whenever news sites require registration. I move on and look elsewhere.

I have already crossed out a few sites for this reason. Never returned to those sites. There are plenty of high quality news sites that do not require registration.

Very dumb pratice methinks. What’s the point of having a list of bogus users? Surely advertisers realise this as well.

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