An update from Rupert Murdoch's experiment in news publishing without search-engines: the oligarch has reversed his policy regarding the Times (which went paywall in 2009), and he will now allow Google and other search tools to index the first two sentences of each article. Of course, anyone who sees a Times article in her search results will not be able to read it, unless she pays for it, or unless she is among the 130,000-odd digital subscribers to the service. What's more, any page of search results displaying an unfollowable link to a Times story will also include a followable link to another story covering the same subject.
PaidContent says that this represents "the publisher [...] having to look in new places to maintain customer acquisition momentum." Back in 2010, I spent a week on the phone with a NewsCorp exec, digging into the company's paywall numbers, concluding that they were engaged in spin intended to obscure the truth of the outcome of their experiment. However, back then, the Times was boasting 200,000 paid users (though they wouldn't say how many paid £1 for a single day's access, how many got a subscription free with their mobile phone service, and how many were regular subscribers), and now that number has declined to 130,000. Take that for whatever it's worth.Next post