ChasNote

03 October 2005

WSJ.com: Rates Up, Relevance Down?

If you can actually get readers to pay to visit your site, it must be just too darn tempting not to milk them for more. At least that seems to be the thinking at WSJ. But I don't get it. I thought Dow Jones spent all that money on MarketWatch because the paid gate at WSJ.com -- while generating substantial revenue -- locked them out (mostly) from the bigger opportunity in online advertising. And, because marketplace cred is necessary if your business depends on advertisers or readers paying you, the paid-content model, which prevents other news sites (especially blogs) from spreading your news because they can't link to your content, also limits your relevance among people who get their information via the Internet. Mike at TechDirt puts it well:

"It seems that the WSJ is caught in some sort of bind, right now. It wants to experiment more and join back in with the online conversation by doing things like having an occasional free story -- but the business folks are only looking at the bottom line and not the big picture. The reporting is still top notch in most cases, but the value may be decreasing as it doesn't allow itself to be part of the conversation."

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