Sun and Telegraph paywalls ‘milestones’

Plans by The Telegraph and The Sun to erect paywalls for readers who access their online editions are a “milestone” in publishers “taking back the reins of ownership” around their audiences and could offer brands more “premium” targeted online ad products rather than positioning around scale alone, according to industry experts.

TheSun.HomePage.02.04.13

However, despite the duo joining a growing list of newspaper brands charging for online content, more work is required to convince advertisers and readers of the value of paying for audiences.

The Telegraph’s paywall will allow readers to view 20 articles a month before being asked to choose between two digital subscription packages: a “web pack”, which combines unlimited desktop access and smartphone apps for £1.99 a month, or the full “digital pack”, which includes tablet editions for £9.99 per month.

The Telegraph has publicised the website meter to readers via the newspaper and online and has contacted advertisers and agencies via email.

The email states the paywall will help advertisers “develop a closer rapport with readers” and make campaign budgets “work harder and smarter” through the launch of new ad packages based on actual demographic data given by subscribers at registration.

Dave King, Telegraph Media Group executive director, says claims its plans have been “well received” because it will “continue to deliver large, desirable, affluent, loyal audiences and, in addition, new improved targeting.”

The Sun has not revealed exact plans for its forthcoming pay model to be introduced later this year, a spokesman says it will offers readers “a bigger and better experience”.

Douglas McCabe, media analyst at Enders Analysis, says the two announcements mark “important milestones” and will require a “wholesale rethink” from publishers on how they position their online advertising offerings.

He adds: “The reason this is happening so rapidly is because the value of advertising as a purely audience eyeballs volume game will relentlessly decline so much until it is eventually worthless. This is about publishers really taking back the reins on their audiences and building up a premium value around the model again based on the value of their content, brands and the context in which advertising appears.”

The changes have been driven by the rate of content consumption, as the lines between apps, desktop and newspapers begin to blur, according to Rufus Olins. CEO of newspaper marketing body Newsworks.

He expects to see newspaper brands do more brand marketing to promote the authority and expertise their titles provide across platforms to both potential readers and advertisers, highlighting the level of loyalty and engagement paying subscribers have to their online content.

Liam Mullins, media agency The7Stars’ head of trading, says while The Sun and Telegraph will be currently focused on explaining their new offerings to readers, they will also need to do more to convince advertisers of the value of paying audiences.

He adds: “There’s a value in people paying to get content because they are likely to be more engaged and more connected – which should lead to better targeting – but you have to weight that up. The Sun’s audience will fall off a cliff. Is it that good an offer if there’s only 10 people [to advertise to]?”

PAYWALL TIMELINE

  • October 2007: Financial Times pioneers the metered model with launch of its online paywall
  • May 2010: Financial Times launches “average daily global audience” measurement to quantify its total digital and print reach
  • July 2010: The Times introduces full paywall behind The Times and Sunday Times
  • August 2010: ComScore figures find The Times’ online visitors halved since paywall introduction
  • November 2012: Telegraph introduces metered model for international readers
  • 26 March 2013: Telegraph extends meter to UK
  • 27 March 2013: The Sun announces pay model to be introduced later this year

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