Saturday, 3 October 2009


(by Richard Holway 3.00pm Saturday 3rd Oct 09) The current decade is stacking up to the “Decade of the ‘Free’”. It is a fascinating trend in which our industry and the internet are at its heart. The trend took an important step forward on Friday when the Evening Standard declared that it would become a ‘free’ newspaper in a few weeks time. Of course, there are many ‘free’ newspapers already. But the Evening Standard has been around for over 180 years and is highly regarded for its journalism. The argument goes ‘If the Evening Standard is free, how much longer will I need to pay for The Times?”.

The other part of the argument is, of course, online newspapers. These have historically been free. But now there are many moves to introduce a subscription model. Indeed, News Corp, who own The Times, have declared a subscription-only policy will start in the new year. Today, a large number of US magazines have come together to make their content available online by subscription and micro payments.

So we have, at first sight, the bizarre situation of print newspapers (which historically are paid for) becoming free and online news services (which have historically been free) being paid for!

But it is not that daft. Let’s face it, advertising (not to be confused with sponsored search) doesn’t really work on-line. But print ads do. Just like ads on ‘real time TV’ are difficult to ignore (indeed, many are enjoyable!), the same applies to newspapers. Indeed, even today I noticed a good interest rate on a savings account in The Times ‘Money’ section and scurried off to apply – online! Conversely, I note in today’s post that, because I am a subscriber to The Times, I am a member of Times+. This is an online bazaar tempting me to buy all kinds of goodies and services. As readers must know from the many articles I have written on this issue, I see the main revenue generator from on line news being directing you to other goods and services you will buy from the newspaper and its agents. Bingo and holidays in the case of The Sun.

Bluntly, that’s the model we have here at TechMarketView with HotViews. A model I first ‘invented’ in 1996 and, equally bluntly, has served me very well ever since!

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