Social media turbo charges our news says NY Times boss
If you want to know why the New York Times plans to continue to give away some of its content when its paywall goes up early in 2011 its simple, according to Martin Nisenholtz, senior VP digital, who says social media turbo charges its news.
And why would anyone throw away a turbo charger?
Nisenholtz was talking to Bloomberg’s Emily Chang about the New York Times’ coming metered paywall, which he described as a “soft gate” across the entire site which allows it to enjoy a big user based; the benefits of social media; whilst monetizing heavy users of the site.
“The thing that surprises me most is the sheer power of social media in spreading the news, I mean it’s been an enormous turbo charger on Times content, tweeted blogged, Facebooked whatever, it has added millions of new users.”
It’s clear from listening to Nisenholtz’s comments how highly the NY Times values that social media traffic, which in turn helps it generate millions of dollar in digital ad revenues +14.6 in the third quarter, and the conversations that it brings to the paper.
It is in stark contrast to the Times in London, as I have blogged about once or twice before…, which apparently has no interest in social media or the turbo charging affect that it can have on content as it has put itself behind a paywall styled on cold war Berlin – and nothing is being shared.
Last week’s figures suggest this approach is not as successful as the Times in London might have hoped as it cobbled together numbers that just pushed it over the 100,000 digital sales mark.
Nisenholtz also goes on to admit that he didn’t see Twitter and its success coming (who did?) and the success that it has bought the NY Times: it is now the biggest on Twitter and it has more followers than readers.
“I have to say the first time I saw Google I knew it was going to be huge, but Twitter — huge surprise. It has added tremendously to our user base.
Nisenholtz brushed off suggestions that the NY Times had tried a paywall before referring to the abandoned Times Select experiment, which erected a small wall around a small content area on the site.
“We haven’t tried it before [a paywall]. The metered model is a new approach, the FT has that approach. It is a certain number of free articles and then it tips into a paywall. The reason you do that is to keep your big base, your big audience of people coming in from Twitter and elsewhere and you are monetizing the people who are drinking very deeply and using a lot of the content.
“Times Select was a hard gate on one part of the site, this is a softer gate on the entire site and I think it will work.”