Comments on: News consumers, paywalls, and useless tourists A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: drewbie Fri, 28 May 2010 16:39:44 +0000 I only click on ads by accident.

I guess I’m a useless tourist.

By: johngapper Fri, 28 May 2010 14:28:20 +0000 You might be right in some Utopian future, Felix but so far, all that advertising networks which try to aggregate individuals into ad packages based on demographic data and browsing behaviour have achieved is to drive down online ad rates because the response rates are so low. I can’t see why social media-powered advertising would be any different (despite your touching and oft-reasserted belief in your own premium value).

Conversely, advertisers will and do pay for committed readers who display engagement with, and loyalty to, a particular publication, online or off. It may be old-fashioned but it actually works.

By: STORYBURNcom3 Fri, 28 May 2010 02:36:54 +0000 Who on earth reads a physical newspaper anymore?

We just launched a competitor to Facebook. Check us out at

By: HBC Thu, 27 May 2010 22:55:11 +0000 This isn’t just a blogger problem. Nor one solely for the NYT, who should by now have solved it themselves.

No, I have this conversation all the time with sophisticated (thank you, GS) people who think they have their cross-media strategy totally figured out because they’re already “on” facebook, myspace and twitter (which rhymes with You Know What)… But they don’t.

They do not. Not as long as their own web presence subordinates itself to any other ancillary social network. And you know what else? As long as they only ever exist in awe of superficially free albeit successful social networking resources, they never will. Nor will they go anywhere near as far and wide – or wealthily – as they could.

You have to start by knowing what you want, which oughtn’t to start and end or run second to being “on” a lot of other people’s servers. You continue by intelligently leveraging other social networks instead of being leveraged by them. That being clear, you stand a chance of prospering as you deserve, at which point advertisers stop bothering you with questions you can’t answer.

I’m not about to spell out the entire how-to for Murdoch’s or the NYT’s benefit like it was a free FAQ but it’s really not that difficult, once you get your head straight.

By: absinthe Thu, 27 May 2010 20:40:20 +0000 Demographics from social networks and the umpteen other ways you’re being tracked are probably useful. I’m not sure how useful social network news suggestions really are to users, though — I’m sure homophily exists there, but I don’t think it’s terribly strong. This view probably looks different when you’re a professional blogger.

By: netvet Thu, 27 May 2010 19:14:30 +0000 There is no reason “tourists” of news sites or other sites need to be “useless”. Engage Technologies in the ’90’s built anonymous clickstream profiles across 5,000 websites for 88 million web surfers. By simply using cookies to gather what web pages an individual visited and categorizing the page, an interest profile could be built over time that iteratively evolved to best reflect what is of interest to that individual, without ever having to know what their name is. This way ads and other content could be better targeted to fit the profile of a given individual once a participating site sees a new visitor that has visited one of the other participating sites in the clickstream profiling network. Unfortunately, Engage did not survive the Internet bubble burst, but forms of its technology is used by Google and others today to provide a more personalized web experience. I guess Murdoch still does not understand this if he is referring to web surfers as “useless tourists”.

By: Curmudgeon Thu, 27 May 2010 16:58:00 +0000 @Cynic: I believe I made that exact same point in my own ramblings a few months ago – I will pay for content, but I’m not going to register a dozen different times, remember a dozen different logins, and pay a dozen different small but annoying fees on a monthly basis.

By: Cynic Thu, 27 May 2010 16:41:02 +0000 Felix:

I’m skeptical. If you ran a newspaper, and were in the business of selling the attention of your readers to advertisers, wouldn’t you want to retain control of their crucial demographic information? Cede that core franchise to Facebook, and live at their mercy. What if Zuckerberg decides he wants a progressively larger cut of the ad revenue his user profiles are generating? If he owns your users, he’s got you over a barrel.

There’s no reason that Facebook or Twitter log-ins can’t supplement and enrich what you’re offering to advertisers. Let users link their accounts, by all means. But still require a separate log-in, so that if a user leaves Facebook, or its demands grow overly extortionate, you can keep your own users. The information provided via paid subscriptions is actually more accurate, if often less detailed, than what’s up on Facebook or other networking sites. At the very least, the name and address need to be verified for the payment to work. That’s a good deal more than Facebook or LinkedIn can claim; both sites are full of exaggerations, large and small, and embroidered by active imaginations.

The surprise, to me, is that newspapers haven’t been more aggressive in assembling this information themselves. Most registration processes are fairly cursory. Few publications solicit the information that advertisers might find most valuable. Now they’re talking about generating subscription revenue and imposing firewalls, when detailed registration walls might well be more cost-effective.

I happen to think that the optimal solution is probably an industry alliance. Just as blogs are moving toward a handful of standard logins – Disqus, OpenID, etc. – I suspect some clever newspaper mogul will figure out that creating a single user account is the way to go. If filling out one detailed questionnaire would get me free – or even discounted – access to the NYT, WashPost, LA Times, and a variety of other dailies, I’d jump at the chance. A user could set up one profile, and then pay an incremental fee for each paywall-protected publication he wishes to access. Everyone would win. Newspapers would be much more likely to monetize the horde of casual visitors – even if it’s their first visit and only to the site, if they already had an ID, they could be served an ad appropriate for their area or interests and the newspaper could get a cut of the revenue. Advertisers could be more targeted, while still restricting their ads to reputable venues – a key advantage over AdWords.

Google may be moving in this direction already – there are hints of it in the Fallows piece. But someone is going to get there, and soon.