The advertising revenue model and the subscription model aren’t “two great tastes that taste great together.” In fact, they’re in direct conflict. Advertising revenue is based on eyeballs and interactions — to increase it, you would make your site more broadly appealing (less specialized), more accessible (less exclusive), plus make your ads as diverting/distracting as possible (less value-added). But do that and you’ll lose subscribers, which means fewer eyeballs, and you’re in a death spiral. Keep your subscribers happy by catering to their specific tastes (more specialized), increasing prestige (more exclusive), or removing distracting ads (value-added) and your advertisers will be displeased.
Will the New York Times Paywall Succeed?
Written on:April 1, 2011