Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

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How to negotiate paywalls
Advertisers can take part in the dynamic sharing of information facilitated by social media, and viewers can see the advertisement regardless of whether or not they can read the article.

Although the editorial, circulation and ad departments in newspapers tend to be separated, each operating within their traditional structures, a new development in web circulation could have an impact on these very separate departments. This development is the paywall. If you don’t already have a paywall at your paper, then your editorial and ad content is free for users, allowing anyone to read articles and see advertisements. If you do have a paywall, there are a few different implementation strategies, ranging from all content being subscription based to limited free content.

Gannett has recently introduced a paywall strategy for all its newspapers, with the only exclusion being The USA Today. Gannett’s paywall will allow readers to view articles on newspaper’s website a limited amount of times before being blocked and then being asked to subscribe. This allows community members to have some access to local news, especially if they have limited interests and are only concerned with specific aspects of the on-goings of the community.

However, there is some malleability in paywall strategy. The New York Times, for example, has a 10-article-per-month limit, and only blocks subsequent articles if they are directly navigated to through the website. Subscribers that share articles on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter give their friends and followers access to those articles as well. Thus, if accessed from social media or other web sharing platform, an article can be read free of charge. This allows the web version of the New York Times to essentially function as a physical newspaper would; it can be passed around to friends and family to comment on various articles and current events.

Although the paywall is meant to protect the editorial content of the newspaper, it can have detrimental effects on the ad department. Since online versions of the newspaper were essentially free to the public, online ad space was easier to sell, as the proliferation of the ad was astronomical compared to the limited amount of people who subscribed to the printed-paper. Now, with a paywall, papers that before had an unlimited audience will now be limiting the amount of free content available, and thus possibly alienating advertisers.

Unfortunately, if your paper is corporately owned, there isn’t a whole lot that you can do about a paywall. Don’t fret however; there are some ways to placate your advertisers if they are angry about your paper limiting the eyeballs that will see their ads.

Since many newspapers, paywall or not, will use social media to advertise their articles, you can ask advertisers to sponsor posts. This way, advertisers can take part in the dynamic sharing of information facilitated by social media, and viewers can see the advertisement regardless of whether or not they can read the article. You can also ask advertisers to place an ad on the block that shows up once a user has used up their limited articles. This way, when readers have run out of things to read, an ad will give them something else to explore.

The paywall is another revenue generating tool for newspapers, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. Although it can be detrimental to the ad department, there are ways to use the spaces that supplement the newspaper and its paywall to help appease your advertisers, should they feel as if the once-free online universe is now becoming more restrictive.