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The digital future of Newspaper – Will consumer pay for the news – Part 2

14-December-2009
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The digital future of Newspaper – Will consumer pay for the news – Part 2

For long, print publications have been trying to monetise their content online, with varying degrees of success and some not so successful ventures. While in Part 1, exchange4media got the publishers’ views, in Part 2, we look at what digital agencies have to say and the future of such initiatives.

What digital agencies have to say

Namita Sahu, COO, Publicitas Digital Pvt Ltd, believes that the online subscription model stood to benefit those newspapers with a unique voice and reporting and with strong subscriber bases.

Citing an example to elaborate on this model, Sahu said, “Financialtimes.com is one of the media assets from our portfolio that we exclusively represent in India. They have successfully implemented the subscription model globally. FT.com allows unregistered user to read up to three articles and registered readers up to 10 articles. Beyond this limit, they are asked to subscribe. FT.com also ensures that they convert light users to loyal users, who don’t mind paying for the content.”

Prasanth Mohanachandran, Executive Director, Digital Services, OgilvyOne & Neo@Ogilvy, observed that need based consumer would certainly pay for the content. He said, “The consumer will be ready to pay for financial information, stock alerts and health related content. Analytical data or research data are being paid and will do well in the digital domain also. There is no time bound for it and it has a great demand as well.”

Agreeing with him, Publicitas Digital’s Sahu said, “Consumers with a particular interest in sports and financial content can be looked at as target audience for paid subscription. Specialised content sites will find it easier to make a shift towards a paid subscription model as compared to general news websites.”

But, surveys forecast a gloomy future

A survey by Ipsos Mendelsohn conducted in July on 2,404 adults in the US asked about 40 newspapers and magazines, including Newsweek, Cosmopolitan and Cooking Light. According to the survey, 55.5 per cent of the respondents said they were very or extremely unlikely to pay for online print content, while only 16.5 per cent are likely to do that. The study also revealed that only 3 per cent read a publication’s print edition and its site.

However, one good news was that more than a third of the respondents said that they would follow an online version of a shut-down print publication.

There have also been some research that show that consumers are willing to spend small monthly sums to receive news on their personal computers and mobile devices. In a survey of 5,000 individuals conducted across nine countries, BCG (Boston Consulting Group) found that the average monthly amount that consumers would be prepared to pay ranged from $3 in the US and Australia to $7 in Italy.

Huffington Post Matthew Palevsky concluded by saying that while readers would likely not pay for news content directly, reporters and news outlets might yet find another way to sell their product. Meanwhile, it appears that advertisements will continue to serve as the primary profit engine for online news content.

Also read:

The digital future of print media – Will consumer pay for the news? – Part 1

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