p2pnet view P2P:- When it comes to paywalls, Google and the New York Times, Canada has two distinctions:
- Only a few days after the New York Times decided to keep readers out by erecting a paywall on its Canadian site, David Hayes, a programmer from Kitchener, Ontario, wrote a four-line by-pass “plus a few more to allow me to update it”, says QMI.
- When the details were announced, NYT reps said it’d be “placing a five article a day limit on Google referrals, and only Google referrals”, said TechCrunch, going on, “This policy has somehow changed over the weekend”, with the newspaper’s Kristin Mason ex[plaining "the five article limit will now extend to 'all major search engines.' Apparently the Google-only clause was only specific to the Canadian roll out and will be lifted during when the paywall launches worldwide on March 28th."
Canadian only, eh?
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corpse lost lost $3.4 billion in the year to the end of June, p2pnet posted in the summer of 2009, going on:
“And now he expects you to pay for it.
"News Corp is set to start charging online customers for news content across all its websites ... "
'Carefully researched and plotted'
On SearchEngineLand, Danny Sullivan has a great piece on the various marks of the Great NYT Paywall, and we can't resist quoting his Planning The Paywall, Mark II, to wit >>>
Anyway, back to the paywall. When it was first announced, we were told (again, bolding the key parts, as I will with all quotes going forward):
All visitors to NYTimes.com will have full access to the home page. In addition, readers will be able to read individual articles through search sites like Google, Yahoo and Bing without charge. After that first article, though, clicking on subsequent ones will count toward the monthly limit.
We were also told this had been carefully researched and plotted:
The Times Company has been studying the matter for almost a year, searching for common ground between pro- and anti-pay camps. Company executives said the changes would wait another year primarily because they need to build pay-system software that works seamlessly with NYTimes.com and the print subscriber database….
Most readers who go to the Times site, as with other news sites, are incidental visitors, arriving no more than once in a while through searches and links, and many of them would be unaffected by the new system. A much smaller number of committed readers account for the bulk of the site visits and page views, and the essential question is how many of them will pay.
The Times Company looked at several approaches, including a straightforward pay wall similar to The Journal’s, which makes some articles available to any visitor, and others accessible only to paying readers. It also rejected the ideas of varying the price depending on how much a consumer uses the site, and a “membership” format similar to the one used in public broadcasting.
The approach the company took was “the one that after much research and study we determined has the most upside” in both subscriptions and advertising, said Martin A. Nisenholtz, senior vice president for digital operations.
Remember, I’m quoting the high quality news content of the New York Times itself in explaining what it was doing.
Secret Tape #1: Inside The Planning Meeting
Now let’s imagine how one of the planning meetings went:
Executive 1: We need a new way to get money out of these freeloaders. What should we do, now that TimesSelect tanked?
Executive 2: Let’s block everyone!
Executive 1: No, dammit. We lose all that traffic. Didn’t you learn anything last time? We need something that gives the illusion of a paywall to idiots but lets all those pesky bloggers in.
Executive 2: Screw the bloggers. That’s all dying anyway.
Executive 1: No, one of them hits a paywall barrier, and they go off on a rant with lots of screenshots on how they can’t share stuff. Then the echo chamber fires up, and we look stupid. I’m tired of looking stupid.
Executive 2: Don’t we have some of those social media guru types that know about this stuff?
Executive 1: Yeah, let me get one. [Picks up telephone. Pushes button for assistant. Mumbles to get some social person up to the executive level]
Social Media Guru: Hey, this is easy. Just let anyone in who shares a link on Twitter and Facebook. Then we get all that sharing love, and no one hates us.
Executive 2: Is that easy to do?
Social Media Guru: Well, we can set up a “whitelist” of sites that we allow in. Of course, there are a lot of sharing sites. And then bloggers might want to link to us. If people click from a blog, and they get a paywall, that might generate hit. And there’s no way we’ll know all the blogs out there. Might be easier to just let anyone linking to us in for free.
Executive 2: Twit what? Is this easy to do?
Social Media Guru: Sure.
Executive 2: What about Google. I hate those bastards. Can we block them?
Executive 1: Hold on there. Last time we got screwed by blocking them. Lost all that traffic and and stuff. I remember some SOO person or whatever going on and on about it.
Social Media Guru: You mean SEO.
Executive 2: Whatever.
Executive 1: Let me them in here. [Picks up telephone, gets assistant to get that SEO person to come up]
SEO Guru: Hey, good news. Rupert has..
Executive 1: Don’t use that name in here!
SEO Guru: Sorry. The people over at that big publishing corporation, has the name “News” in it, they’ve been yelling about Google ripping them off so much with First Click Free that they now allow it to be limited.
Executive 2: Huh? What?
SEO Guru: Well, a tiny number of people figured out they could read any of our articles if they searched for them and clicked from Google News. An even tinier number of people wrote these add-ons for their browsers that made it seem like they were coming from Google News. Those were pretty cool actually…
Executive 1: Shut up. What about the limits?
SEO Guru: Well, now you can limit things so that anyone coming from Google News can see only five pages per day. The beauty is, you know how we paginate the hell out of all our articles? Technically, they can only view the first five pages they come to from Google News. So heck, even if they come in on one of their five free clicks, we can screw them up when they go to the second page of a story.
Executive 1: This is great. Let’s implement that in our paywall plans. Does Google do this for us?
SEO Guru: No, Google just says it’s OK for us to figure out a way to do it.
Executive 1: Fine. You can go. Take that social media guru with you, too.
“So far, I have only received this statement from New York Times communications manager Kristin Mason:
“At this time, we have nothing more to offer beyond the statement we have provided: After reviewing our options, we decided to extend the policy of five free clicks per day to all major search engines by the global launch on March 28. Our pre-launch period in Canada was undertaken to enable us to test the systems and fine-tune the model.”
Stay tuned — what else has the NYT in store for us?
QMI – Canadian cracks NYT paywall, March 22, 2011
TechCrunch – NYTimes Paywall Limit To Extend Beyond Google To “All Major Search Engines”, March 21, 2011
lost $3.4 billion – News is NOT free: Murdoch, August 6, 2009
SearchEngineLand – The Leaky New York Times Paywall & How “Google Limits” Led To “Search Engine Limits”, March 22, 2011
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi
World War III will be a global information war with no division between civilian & military participation ~ Marshall McLuhan
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