MailOnline to experiment with ‘freemium’ model

Daily Mail and General Trust chairman Lord Rothermere has hinted MailOnline could follow the paths of rivals such as News International and The Telegraph by charging for some of its content.


Speaking at NewsWorks’ Shift 2013 event in London today (16 April), Lord Rothermere said the site “ideally” wants to double its audience size to compete with the likes of Yahoo! News globally. If the MailOnline were to double its audience, it would reach about 220 million monthly unique browsers worldwide, according to its most recent trading update.

After growing its audience to a point where it might plateau or if it does not grow to its desired size, the site would then look to experiment with a freemium model – by which users could access a certain amount of articles per month before needing to pay – Lord Rothermere suggested.

He said: “I can’t put a time frame on freemium, I think we have launched Mail+ [the Daily Mail’s paid-for tablet editions] and we’re having a look to see how that develops…but we are starting to look at premium content and trying to understand how we might find the right mechanism to charging for that, but it’s really early days.

“We will find out pretty quickly [what premium is]. It could be Mail+ and basic repackaging, it could mean we have to go into the rights business [such as News International’s investment in Premier League football highlights for the 2013/14 season], it could be good journalism. It’s a big subject and I’d be lying if I said I knew.”

When it comes to building advertising products, Lord Rothermere said DMGT will look to elsewhere in the industry – such as the’s use of HTML5 for ad creative – and other sectors such as the work done by Google and Facebook on “presumptive advertising” [targeting] to build out its own offering.

DMGT forecasts MailOnline’s revenues for the full year are set to reach £45m, more than double its previously reported revenues of £19m in the 2010/11 financial year.

In December MailOnline lost its manging director James Bromley, who left the company after almost five years to “move on to a new challenge”.

Speaking at the same conference today, recently installed Trinity Mirror CEO Simon Fox said the publisher would not look to explore a paywall strategy in the immediate future.

He added: “Right now I don’t think that enough readers would pay for our content to make it a commercially attractive proposition…in a world with a free BBC, Guardian it’s hard to see if we were to put a paywall that we would be successful in getting subscription revenue from that….but I don’t think you can say anything is forever in this digital world.”

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