Why it’s hard for The Times to leverage social media behind a paywall

Two moves at The Times and Sunday Times — the closure of the Times Opinion Tumblr and the introduction of a retweeting tool — prompted me to write something for Press Gazette about how social media does and doesn’t work behind a paywall.

Here’s the crux of the piece:

Back in the mid/late 2000s search engines drove most people to The Times, accounting for up to 70 per cent of the traffic at one time, according to one senior editorial executive. That was pre-paywall and that was before social began to offer a serious alternative source of high volume traffic.

News International concluded that it couldn’t turn those passing eyeballs into a viable commercial model – and the majority of newspaper groups either side of the Atlantic have come to a similar conclusion.

But a subscription model doesn’t negate the need to create buzz around your journalism. After all, it’s the quality of that journalism that you are selling and to do that effectively you have to show some leg, you have to give non-subscribers a taste of what they are missing, you have to give some of it away for free.

You need to use social media effectively to spread the word. That means no matter how many staffers retweet a cracking page one splash, the link needs to lead somewhere that’s not “sign up here”.

You can read The Times, paywalls and social media here.

 

Advertisements

Fine without Vine? Think again

For my piece this week over at the Press Gazette, I’ve made the case for using Twitter’s Vine, the app that let’s you film and upload six-second video clips that play on a loop.

Why would you want to do that? Good question:

Just like Twitter, attempts to sell the benefits are not easy. And just like Twitter, when you see some examples you start to get it. Again the creativity comes from working within limits.

There are three examples over on the Press Gazette worth watching and for journalism here are some suggested uses to start with:

Print publications should be using it too – to promote cover art or front page leads; to take readers inside the newsroom, to a press conference or on assignment; to get a word from the editor or the writer of the cover story.

You can read Like Twitter before, Vine is worth your attention here.

“For most publishers, Google is the classic frenemy”

An interesting read from Nieman Journalism Lab on the state of the digital advertising market. Writer Ken Doctor notes that while digital advertising overall has been growing at 15 per cent a year (in the US), revenues have flat lined for news publishers. He writes:

Publishers describe their digital ad woe with these terms: “price compression,” “bargain-basement ad networks,” and “death of the banner ad.” Each describes a world of hyper-competition in digital advertising — a world of almost infinite ad possibility and unyielding downward pricing pressure.

Doctor identifies technology as a key reason for much of the above. He continues:

[Y]ou’ll see lots of talk of the ad-tech stack, and who owns it. Google, of course, owns much of it, through its successive AdWords/Doubleclick/AdMob and more creations, acquisitions and integrations. Its stack is so efficient that many publishers feel compelled to use it, though they are wary of getting their businesses tied ever more directly to Google.

You can continue to read The newsonomics of climbing the ad food chain here.