Time Inc. erecting pay walls beginning with Entertainment Weekly

30 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

5 ways Time Inc. is trying to make paywalls work.

Last week, we reported that Time Inc. was quietly rolling out a metered paywall for the Entertainment Weekly website, a move that signaled similar changes at other Time Inc. brands. As judged by the announcement, the company, recently spun off of Time Warner, does not sound terribly committed to the idea, saying the goal of the initiative is “to gain greater insight into digital preferences of Time Inc. audiences.” Most digital media veterans expect the idea to lead to less web traffic and a loss of digital advertising revenue.Time Inc., the world’s largest publisher of magazines — printed and otherwise — has officially unveiled its new “paid content” strategy, which will effectively establish a so-called “pay wall” for visitors to its magazine Web sites who aren’t also subscribers of the magazines. On Friday, chairman and CEO Joe Ripp announced that the websites for Health, People, Money, Real Simple and Time will all roll our metered paywalls later this summer. “Deepening our relationships with digital audiences who value our premium content is of paramount importance to us,” said Ripp. “It enables us to better identify and understand the changing needs of our audiences and provide greater value by introducing targeted products and services.” As reported, nonregistered EW.com readers will have free access to 10 stories per month, while registered nonsubscribers will have access to 15 articles per month. Although the announcement below does not mention it, the starting prices for unlimited access to EW.com will be $1.99 per month or $20 per year, but for $25, a reader also receives a subscription to the print magazine – at least according to the story on Politico.

The company said non-subscribing EW.com visitors will have “free access up to a defined reading limit and will then be presented with a variety of paid offers” to upsell them into other products. Many publishers have already begun doing the same: In a survey of its members a year ago, 95 percent of members of the trade association Digital Content Next had a paid subscription strategy.” Read more. At this point I cannot confirm this because everything on the EW.com website that mentions subscriptions only talks about print, and clicking around endlessly, I never ran into the paywall (likely because they have not turned it on). The offers will include a monthly unlimited Web access pass, new fee-based apps, and an “all access” bundle with Web access, print and digital magazine subscription, newsletters and more. As I’ve mentioned many times here at TNM, paywalls have a good track record with business publications, both consumer and B2B, where readers see the financial benefits of receiving unfettered access to the content.

Time Inc. execs characterized the paid-content strategy as an opportunity to learn the elasticity of paying and non-paying customers, noting that it will “provide the company with the opportunity to more effectively understand its online visitors, craft targeted messages for them and help address their needs through existing and new products across all brands.” All content published by MediaPost is determined by our editors 100% in the interest of our readers … independent of advertising, sponsorships or other considerations. At The New York Times, often held up as the best example of metered paywalls at a consumer media product, the results have been mixed: while digital circulation revenue has grown dramatically, advertising revenue continues to fall (including, in some quarters, digital ad revenue). At many media properties, the metered paywalls are intentionally leeky in order to not lose casual readers, while hopefully attracting brand loyal readers to sign up for a digital subscription. The paywall strategy somewhat conflicts with the idea of growing digital advertising through both creating new digital media products, and also going aggressively after digitally native types of advertising. Time Inc. looks to be heading in both directions at the same time as it announced earlier this week the acquisition of FanSided, the collection of sports websites, which has partnered in the past (and will now be integrated) with Sports Illustrated.

Executive Vice President of Consumer Marketing and Revenue Lynne Biggar. “We have a comprehensive testing strategy and look forward to learning with our consumers.”. By offering a broader set of digital products, the paid content approach is expected to attract new customers and strengthen Time Inc.’s growth efforts.

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