Two years ago Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. introduced paywalls to its British newspaper, The Times, and blocked all search indexing from Google. The News Corp. paywall was designed to increase revenue from the newspaper website with a subscription-based model, however, the company’s UK division, News International, has reversed this decision and is now allowing Google to index content from The Times. Users will be able to see a two-sentence preview of articles from Google, but will still need to pay in order to view the content in its entirety, according to Techcrunch.
Currently when users see indexed versions of Times content, they are taken to a subscription window. This is similar to the model of the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and many magazine websites.
Monetisizing Content vs. Building a User Base
Content professionals, especially journalists, should take note of this move by News Corp. and Murdoch. Three years ago, they were very confident that by keeping their content from Google, they would be able to focus on the newspaper audience and monetize the content. The company was adamant that it could survive without Google, and even prosper. However, after the company put up the paywall, nearly 4 million visitors to the site had disappeared in the months that followed.
Finances are required for solid, well produced and informative web content, but so are users. Asking users to pay for their content upon viewing was an unwise move and now News Corp. seems to have realized this. A newspaper’s readership is likely to visit the website on a daily basis, but new users will come from Google.
Invite Them In First
The paywall model from The New York Times is an example of this. It allows new users to view several articles per month and then asks them to pay for the content after they have reached the limit. According to The Globe and Mail, the NYT announced in March, that nearly half a million users had paid for a subscription. Unlike the News Corp. paywall, the NYT paywall still invited in new users to view content and browse their site.
By blocking Google from content, websites will lose out on new potential users and customers. Share your content, monetize it, but, perhaps most importantly, share it with the world. This cannot be achieved by blocking the largest search engine from your website.