I understand that newspaper sites are in turmoil. I understand they need to generate more revenue. I don’t understand some of they ways they try to accomplish it.
Many of the McClatchy newspaper sites set a threshold for the number of pages a visitor can view before forcing them to register. Some sites have that number as low as 10 pages every 6 months. The theory being that once you force a visitors to register, you can then tell the advertisers, “look I have X subscribers”. Advertisers will be impressed by the number and spend millions of dollars on gigantic flashing banner ads.
The rest of theory is a little fuzzier, but goes something like this, “Once they register they’ll also be able to sign up for daily emails which highlight our top stories. They’ll also have the privilege of commenting on stories.” The reason I think that part is a bit fuzzy, is that many of the people who register don’t use real information. 10 Minute Mail has made using your real email unnescessary. Why would I give a newspaper my real information? What good could possible come out of that information transaction for me?
I bought Avinash Kaushik’s book on Web Analytics a while ago and one thing he says in there rang especially true:
It is critical for near-long-term success and for long-term success that at the heart of your web analytics program you are asking not what the website is doing for your company, but this question: How is the website doing in terms of delivering for the customers?
The fact that sites like Bug Me Not even exist is a testament to how truely unhelpful forcing people to register is. Thousands of visitors hate the process enough to take extra steps so others can avoid registering. It means that there are probably thousands of “toxic accounts” in the registration databases.
There is nothing I can think of that a newspaper has that I can’t get somewhere else without registering. If it’s a local reporter that only writes one column a week, maybe I’d just stop reading it, but anything else I’ll just leave your site and find it at your competitors.
So here’s a idea for newspaper sites that are still stuck in the mindset of the print era, where you controlled the flow of information, stop making me hate your site. You are no longer my only option. Realize that without me coming to your site, you will fail. If you make me hate your site enough, it may carry over to your print product. Give me a reason to love your site, then I’ll register because I’ll want more from you.