Thursday, February 25, 2010

Don't call it a pay wall

Its funny how cyclical things are in the Internet industry, as old ideas come back into fashion and what's new becomes old very quickly. To some, this typifies the ever-changing way that ideas evolve now that 1.7 billion people all have access to the same information online. To others, this is just an example of how some people never learn by their own mistakes, let alone by those made by other people.

The topic of paying for digital news content is one such subject that has come full circle. As the mainstream media either tries to embrace the digital switch, change its business models or just try to ignorantly and arrogantly force the Internet to bow to its ways (mentioning no names), its is economically squeezed on all sides as the world recovers from the financial binge of the last decade or so, hungover from what some are now calling "The Great Recession".

So last week the great and good of the "Paid Content Industry" all got together in New York to discuss this. What's quite surprising is that it seems that this wasn't the usual Google-bashing conference that mainstream media middle management still seem to still engage in, but was apparently a quite sensible discussions on the future business models for digital news.

Obviously the topic of paywalls was high on the agenda (funny that) and the announcement by the New York Times that it would be creating a 'metered pay system' sometime in the as-yet-to-be-determined future (possibly by the end of this year) was apparently a hot topic.

Its therefore worth asking the question of whether the NYT will be able to afford to send any management to next year's conference, as a consequence of losing money on this proposed venture. Or if, by then, they will all be blaming the lack of advertising spend for not putting more free content online, as the cycle repeats itself in an ever-decreasing timeframe.

More info from Meghan Keane at eConsultancy is available here.
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