A couple of takeaways from Sim Ahmed’s StopPress wrap on the financial challenges facing New Zealand’s news companies.
I really like NBR publisher Todd Scott’s line on paywalls:
People are willing to pay for quality content. However, there’s an expectation from the readers that’s very demanding. Companies shouldn’t get involved with paywalls if they’re not in a position to deliver the resources required to support that level of content.
This is partly why I was so wary of paywalls when they started coming up for discussion a few years ago – I didn’t think the content offering of many news websites was anywhere near good enough back then and their service delivery and user experience were generally dreadful or non-existent. Things have changed for the better in the past two to three years, but I think there’s still a long way to go, particularly on the service side of news operations.
A couple of interesting figures from Sim Ahmed’s piece:
“[We]I came to the conclusion that there are roughly 3,000 individuals in New Zealand willing to pay for a subscription to an online, business-focused publication. We accepted that, but to make ends meet we needed to either increase individual subscriptions dramatically or come up with something like the IP subs,” NBR publisher Todd Scott says… In 2009 there were three large (and unnamed) companies that were paying $7,000 a year for all-you-can-eat [IP] subscriptions to NBR Online.
The majority of Fairfax’s online revenue comes in two forms: banner display ads or sponsored content and sections. The banner displays are self-explanatory, leveraging the mainstream appeal of Stuff.co.nz, which according to Nielsen Online Ratings in April had more than 99 million page impressions from an average unique audience of 1.28 million. And while display revenue still plays a major role in the make up of Fairfax’s online coffers, the focus has now shifted to paid content partnerships with brands.
According to [an] IAB survey, New Zealand’s total online ad spend was up 26 percent to $99.2 million in the first quarter of this year. It is still dominated by search and directories (41 percent), followed by classifieds (31 percent) and display (25 percent). This means total online display revenue is around $25 million, and online video, which IAB predicts will double in the next four years, is also included in this figure.