Understanding audiences is key to figuring out paid content models

From PaidContent.org: The NAA had a “secret” meeting on paid online content models.  The  Philadelphia Inquirer will probably start charging for online content by the end of the year.  An analyst thinks Time Warner will shift its magazines, with difficulty, to a paid online model.

It’s more important that ever before for news organizations to measure success by how well they serve their myriad audiences.  Without clearly defined, trackable and actionable metrics,  news orgs. just won’t know what audiences will pay for.

A paid online content model may not be for everyone.  The following quote is a sales blurb for a Forrester Research service, but it expresses the need for each news organization to figure out its own mix: “Publishers must resist simply building a pay wall around expensive content and should use the Forrester Content Strategy Review to assess their product in its market context as the first step toward building a competitive strategy. By identifying what readers actually value online, publishers can start to balance appeal with the ability to deliver a return.”


Back in the dark ages (1980s!) when there was only print, circulation was the one key measure you could take to the bank.  Increases in circulation  market share translated, point by point, to increases in advertising revenue market share.

It’s not so simple now.  There are multiple audiences, but also multiple revenue streams.  Although tracking audiences now involves far more than counting circulation and estimating readership, the rewards of truly understanding and serving our audiences better will pay off in the long run.

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