Reader's Corner

Industry Insight: Research tells us more about getting people to pay for online news

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An unprecedented amount of formal research on digital subscription models, and a few frantic years of legacy media organizations and startups alike experimenting with them, are beginning to provide a blueprint for getting readers to pay for online news.

It starts with the basic understanding that convincing someone to purchase a digital subscription is different than print. So much news has been free online and for so long. And a digital subscription is not a tangible, manufactured product that people automatically associate a dollar value with.

In most cases, you are also competing with the fact that someone could search for comparable content and get at least 60 to 70 percent of what they were looking for, for free, instantaneously. Is that extra 30 percent of value worth paying for, or is what's available for free elsewhere good enough?

That's why even news organizations that are pursuing a traditional "paywall" subscription model should be paying attention to the research and experiments with membership programs.

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