Rupert Murdoch’s Times and Sunday Times paywalls haven’t exactly proved a hit with customers and media commentators. While fencing off web content when it’s previously been free will understandably annoy many, we’ve always pointed out in our coverage that as long as News International is making a profit from the small number of users it does have, it should be happy.
However, another important part of the equasion is advertisers and it appears they’re not too keen on the Times and Sunday Times too. A piece in The Independent today rounds up views on the paywall from various sides, including some revealing quotes from advertisers.
While it might seem that a small, but dedicated band of users who are willing to pay for online content might be a valuable thing, that’s not true for some advertisers it seems. “We are just not advertising on it. If there’s no traffic on there, there’s no point in advertising on there”, says Rob Lynam, head of press trading at media agency MEC. MEC’s clients include big brands like Lloyds Banking Group, Orange, Morrisons and Chanel.
If Lynam’s view is echoed by other advertisers, it looks like the Times and Sunday Times are missing out on some serious ad revenue. News International’s secretive approach to the paywall’s current performance is also likely to be spooking advertisers. “News International could appease concerns from advertisers about how many people have registered by releasing these numbers”, John Reynolds of Media Week tells The Independent.
Industry watchers expect some official numbers to be announced within weeks. Meanwhile, Murdoch’s paywall is rumoured to be extending to his UK tabloid titles, The Sun and The News of the World soon.