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September 18, 2007

NY Times Goes Free Because of Web Analytics

By Alex Cohen

The New York Times announced that they're opening Times Select to everyone.  Previously, you had to be a monthly or yearly subscriber to get access to articles and opinion pieces by key writers like Maureen Dowd.  Apparently, the number of visitors coming from search engines played a key role...

What changed, The Times said, was that many more readers started coming to the site from search engines and links on other sites instead of coming directly to NYTimes.com. These indirect readers, unable to get access to articles behind the pay wall and less likely to pay subscription fees than the more loyal direct users, were seen as opportunities for more page views and increased advertising revenue.

“What wasn’t anticipated was the explosion in how much of our traffic would be generated by Google, by Yahoo and some others,” Ms. Schiller said.

I wager many of these readers were bouncing (leaving after only one page visit) and that the NY Times wasn't focused on landing page tests to boost conversion.  With such a rich archive of content, opening up the Times Select material could prove a huge boon to their natural search traffic and content consumption.


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Commodity content gets commodity pricing, so the price of news goes to zero. Great for the consumer. Unless, of course, our unwillingness to pay for content makes it impossible for the unique, high-quality, low-volume, long-form publishers to make a living, in which case we all lose.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the New York Times, which holds itself up as a bastion of editorial integrity and quality journalism, helped kill both?

We’re building a business to put the best possible content in front of the largest possible audience. Our mission is simple: make it easy for all of us to discover and access the world's best content, quickly, inexpensively and on our own terms. Still new. Hope you'll check it out.

Nice post on how Analytics can change the way you do business.

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