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Paywall Strategies 2011

Paywall Strategies was the first event from the Media Briefing, a real-time news and information resource for the media industry.

The day was set to be a good one, with a great line up of speakers including Stevie Spring – CEO of Future plc, Conor Dignam – Director of Media at EMAP Inform and Louise White – Group Marketing Director at Incisive Media, to name just a few.

The day kicked off with analyst Nick Thomas from Forrester. Nick’s a long time observer of digital content and its place in the consumer economy. Nick started off by pointing out ‘the Apple-shaped elephant in the room’ following their new model and 30% cut. This fuelled an ongoing debate throughout the day, read more here.

He ended by advising publishers to ‘find your popcorn’. Cinema owners in the 1920s thought of ways to improve the customer experience; they did this with popcorn, which also became very profitable. “In a content-based industry, it’s still popcorn that generates the profit… The challenge for you is to find your popcorn.”

The first panel was about developing a paid content model. Conor Dignam from EMAP Inform spoke on this panel, describing how the B2B publisher created subscriber value with “events, community, free digital, paid subscriptions, newsletters and a platform-agnostic attitude.” Last year EMAP took the decision to stop providing free access to content, and with the help of Abacus’ content delivery and paywall technology were able to rollout this strategy across their brands. Conor says the strategy is to use not one product – not just a paywall – but a range of tools to develop revenue. Content-rich homepages, Google First Click and RSS feeds all play a part.

Ian Eckert of Abacus also spoke on the day. Ian talked about the issues around how online authentication and content management systems can be used in the audience development process and the challenge ahead for digital publishers and media owners.

The elephant was still stalking the room #paywalls11 in the final panel. Ashley Friedlein, CEO and co-founder of Econsultancy; journalist and TheMediaBriefing report author Peter Kirwan; Stevie Spring, CEO of Future Publishing and Patrick Smith editor of the TheMediaBriefing all gave their opinions.

Stevie Spring was full of praise for the ‘friction-free payment’ that Apple offers through its app store. Asked whether she was optimistic about paid for content, she replied: “I’m very optimistic about paid-for data and paid-for deep analysis. I’m more pessimistic about the opportunity for the general public to pay the price that content costs to produce.” Read more here.

The day was a great success generating interesting discussions and debates. The twitter wall #paywalls11 was even a top trend in London on the day, but don’t worry if you missed anything, TheMediaBriefing have caught just about every word here.

Alternatively, here is a roundup of the day:



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