Martin Nisenholtz of the New York times outlines the rationale behind the NY Times Paywall strategy.
The tension between content creators and the provision of content escalated somewhat with Martin Nisenholtz’s take on the best way to ensure quality content in the new ad ecosystem engendered by web 2.0.
The erection of paywalls for journalistic content is a lightning rod for debate surrounding this area, and the New York Times have attracted a degree of notoriety for being the first to stick their heads above the paywall parapet.
Nisenhotlz insists that the paywall is an essential first step to better managing the link economy of the Internet for the benefit of all publishers. The ‘web of managed links’ is Nisenhotltz’s vision, a movement where content publishers control how their content is shared so that they don’t simply boost the value of aggregators and new digital platforms. The paywall is part of that strategy for the NY Times:
The idea behind the “link economy,” is that both content creators and aggregators benefit. But that’s a fiction: “Platforms win in Web 2.0,” he said.”They aggregate at scale. They aggregate all our stuff, and they layer it all for the new ad ecosystem to take advantage of
The traditional stick with which to beat the paywall concept is the “won’t people just go elsewhere where it is free?” argument. Nisenholtz argues that other factors are pertinent:
“you have to create content with value, and the consumer must think well of the brand”
But he does concede that these factors are not the most prominent:
“none of that matters as long as there are completely available and free substitutes. So there are no easy answers…something has to catalyze this movement just as something catalyzed the movement to Web 2.0″