In the “old days,” the beauty of the Internet was the ease of getting a vast amount of information from numerous sources and different perspectives, without paying a penny for it. These sites made a living off of traffic and people interacting with advertisements prominent (but typically not obnoxious) on the sites. Big news sites are now waging a war on this very successful business model.
Many websites that readers have enjoyed for years are now being utterly destroyed by their efforts to procure subscribers. These efforts are turning people off of them and on to independent sites that are still eager to please their audience.
The following are a few examples of the most common techniques being deployed in order to make these sites successful, but are actually ruining them.
You Cannot See Anything But the Title Unless…
A long standing and very popular website for those in the media business was Adweek’s TVNewser. It is a mainstay for anyone interested in this industry. For years people enjoyed its authoritative and informative content for free. Now, they will do not let you see a single story unless you register, which means you are paying the price of unwanted emails selling subscriptions. Meanwhile, it will only let you read five articles a month. It appears most readers are not buying into these opportunities. Who wants to count the number of articles they read each month and then not be able to access a site any more until the next month? This approach will likely not increase their revenue, but actually damage their traffic. Many news consumers are now taking mental note of this practice and choosing not to comeback. Adweek is a major player in media, so it will not disappear overnight, but it is begging for competition for companies that will gladly give similar information at no cost and simply be ad supported.
The Number of Articles You Get is Limited… Very Limited
This is similar to the strategy above but some sites (like the New York Times) let you look at a few of their article each month and then cut you off. It is only slightly better than the example above because they do not require registering or logging in to look at the content, but readers know their days (or in this case, articles) are numbered. They might stay to get their freebies and then move on until next month, but over time most will get in the habit of not visiting sites. Now much of an upside for them there.
So Many Ads, Why Bother?
Another new phenomenon is the “ads that never end,” which beg the question, why bother visiting the site? One of the most notorious at this is the ultra conservative site, WND. It appears that it isn’t trying to sell access to all the articles they have online (they allow visits without a subscription), but are trying to force you to buy their magazine. It is hard to tell, because once you click an article you are overwhelmed with ads — pop ups, crawlers, you name it. The desire is to leave and to do it fast.
If You Want to See Everything, Join Our “Elite Club”
This seems to be the growing trend in the news site industry. Here are just a couple examples and more are popping up everyday.
The Daily Beast. This bastion of liberal politics appears to be one of the first to go to the “join or lose” model, with its “elite,” “Beast Inside” Program. The site still has many free articles available, but the most engaging titles and topics are definitely for those willing to pay $25 a year or $3.99 a month for unlimited access. It appears the program is struggling, with the annual rate that was once as high as $100 and the monthly sometimes as low as $1 a month, its future is questionable.
The Daily Caller. Often seen as the “Beast on the Right,” The Daily Caller has recently plunged into the “Elite Club” model with its “Patriots” membership, allowing access to some of the content, but not all without a membership. The Daily Caller argues it is an endangered species because of the mainstream media’s disdain for it, and you need to join to get “exclusive content” and to help protect them from their enemies. It is newer to the game than the Beast, so it may have not got the memo that such isn’t working. Thus the pricing of $9.95 a month and $99.00 a year have yet to be adjusted to reality. Don’t worry, it will.
The solution: smart and independent news sites that put content and readers first.
Independent news sites like US Daily Review, Price of Business, USA Business Radio, and others are becoming the place to go for those defecting from big media that has simply become impossible to enjoy. In addition to having better viewing experiences, they provide unique content through their guest posting programs, that make them the hot spots for those who provide the content and those who want the latest in unique news.
Want to learn more about independent sites and the creative content they are providing? Contact articles@USABusinessRadio.net. Ask about the members of the Price of Business Digital Network or how you can contribute content as well.