Publications Slowly Realizing That Freeing Up Archives Makes Sense

from the took-'em-long-enough dept

Here at Techdirt we have over ten years worth of content, all available for anyone to read, and as we certainly get a fair amount of traffic to those back archives. While we don't pay that much attention to ad revenues (our business isn't advertising), access to those archives (mainly from Google searches or links from other sites into a specific older story) represent a fair chunk of our page views and ad revenue. With that in mind, it's been quite surprising to see so many publications try to lock up their archives -- either (worst of all!) taking down old stories completely or trying to lock them up behind a pay wall. Luckily, it looks like more and more publications are recognizing that this is a bad business strategy. The article is in the NY Times, which only recognized this very issue a few months ago. Prior to that, it charged for access to its archives, but since opening it up has seen traffic shoot up and ad revenues appear to be following. The article also mentions how Newsweek has had a lot of success opening up its archive, and Sports Illustrated is getting set to make its own archive available later this week. For all of those publishers who worry that there isn't enough ad revenue online, it makes little sense to sit on so much inventory. These days, you need to work on using Google to help drive more traffic, not suing it to stop sending traffic. What better way to make money off your archive than getting a lot more people to look at it?
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Filed Under: advertising, archives, new york times, publications, sports illustrated


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  1. identicon
    Anne, 18 Mar 2008 @ 4:47pm

    Not everything has to be free

    I have no problem with companies that charge for access to their archives. The Los Angeles Times archives from 1880-1985 offer PDF versions of news stories, and most include photos. It must have been an expensive project, and it took years to complete, so although I am no fan of the current LA Times, their historical archives are impressive.

    That said, I don't pay for the articles. I download them free through my university's library system, but the school pays a flat annual subscription fee to Proquest, the portal that manages several newspaper archives.

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