Online Newspapers Start Recognizing That Traffic Is Good

from the slowly-sinking-in dept

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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Comments on “Online Newspapers Start Recognizing That Traffic Is Good”

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15 Comments
That Guy (user link) says:

Re: Re: Newspaper Subscriptions Online

I think registration is a good thing if they don’t just sell your info off. If its a site that has allot of interest to you then you might like to get th occasional newsletter or promotion. Just make sure you are familiar with the online mag and you should be fine. 4 Star Electronics

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Registration bad? Ha!

The newspaper in Spokane, WA (the Spokesman Review) has such a high opinion of its worth that it requires you to subscribe with money for online content.

That the paper is inaccurate, biased and otherwise generally worthless (I can read the paper version in about five minutes) doesn’t seem to matter – they think they’re worth money, so obviously you must pay to see their content. Of course, in some ways they’re correct – this is the only real local paper, so local news is available only there.

Bob says:

Registration

“..you cut your visitors significantly as they don’t want to bother with the hassle of registering — even if it’s free.”

This is true. What news sites have always failed to realize, is that online registration does work.. if you’re the only news site posting on the internet. Unfortunately, when you have over 10,000 other news sites all clamoring for your clicks with the same AP feed, the user will click where it’s the easiest.. and the quickest. Forcing the user to stop and register, even once, encourages the user to leave and never return, because it’s quicker to click the next link to a site that does not require it.

The point to most online ventures is to achieve a critical mass of users, in order to turn a profit. You can never achieve that mass when you require registration, thus you will never have any hope of becoming profitable. It’s so bizarre to see these high-priced marketing gurus continue to convince various news sites to keep doing this; only to languish further and further behind in the shadows.. while sites that allow free access flourish and become the popular household names.

Although I suppose it does serve the added purpose of keeping the prattle down on the net.

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