Ad Revenue Online: Paywalls Are Not the Answer

You'd think there'd be an added benefit when it came to advertising and paywalls: the audience behind the paywall could be seen as more loyal to the brand – willing to pay for the content. In addition, the impressions on those pages beyond the general Internet public's reach are theoretically scarcer, and it draw higher demand (and pricing).

But no... Josh Sternberg reports that NYTimes.com is not getting higher CPMs for its audience behind the paywall – the media company has not changed what it charges. One reason for this maybe that there's still a lot of inventory out there to find these audiences on.

“You can get audience in different places, so a story a publisher is telling is blunted by the realities of the marketplace," comments Mediashare's Andy Chapman. "Setting up a paywall, creating more value, maybe that audience gets smaller, but maybe it’s a more crystallized and more valuable audience. But it’s the nature of marketplace, and I haven’t seen that directly translated.”

At the same time, you'd think the brand association plus the limited audience would jack up the price.

It's hard to believe that subscriber revenue alone can make up for the ad revenue cut off by NYTimes.com's paywall – and the media company's latest earnings report didn't offer any support for that argument (quite the opposite, in fact).

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