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December 10, 2010 / Matt Gerardi

More Details of New York Times Paywall Trickling Out

The New York Times will be launching a paywall for their online content “sometime in the first quarter of next year.” Not much is known beyond the plan’s existence — an actual launch date or pricing structure have yet to be revealed– but we now know it will adhere to a “first-click-free” policy. (Yahoo)

This policy means users will be given a monthly allotment of free access to stories. Once that number of free clicks is used up, the site will begin asking the reader to subscribe.

“The  first-click-free approach will help to preserve NYTimes.com’s significant reach and advertising inventory  in that it will allow us to retain light users while aiming to convert heavier users to a digital subscription,” said Times CEO Janet Robinson. (Yahoo)

A concern for this type of paywall is abuse through search engines like Google. Initially Times digital chief Martin Niesenholtz made remarks implying clicking a link to a Times story from any outside source would result in access to that story, regardless of the readers remaining clicks. He has since backpedaled from that sentiment and it seems like accessing Times content through outside sources will use up a click. (Reuters)

This is significant because online reading habits are increasingly link based. The advent of online social networking has created a new type of advertising for the new media. Twitter and Facebook integration is a necessity on any website, especially that of news outlets. It’s free advertising.

What a bummer it would be to click a link to an interesting story posted on Facebook by a friend only to be shut out from the content and asked to subscribe. By locking out these users the Times is only pushing them to find news from other places that remain paywall free and believe me there will be plenty of those places, perhaps especially after this paywall goes up.

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