In my obsession with finding examples of content that commands a payment (other than as flypaper for eyeballs), the Wall Street Journal and ConsumerReports.org stand out as (rare) examples of successful paid sites.
Thanks to Paid Content for pointing me to both items. I’ll start with editor Staci Kramer’s take on the WSJ which, she reminds us, raised the price of its online edition to $79 in 2002, then upped it another $20 in July. While waiting for subscription details with the Dow Jones Q305 results, Kramer writes:
“Gordon Crovitz, president of Dow Jones Electronic Publishing, says subscribers continue to renew at –very high rates’ and new subs are signing on at a strong rate. (Quoting Crovitz) –We had an annual increase of more than 8 percent when we reported the second quarter, which was the fastest rate of subscriber growth since 2002. As importantly, our usage numbers continue to soar, with very strong double-digit gains in the number of monthly visitors to the Online Journal and in page views.”
Kramer also authored the recent Paid Content piece noting a milestone for ConsumerReports.org. She writes:
“Consumers Union announced today that ConsumerReports.org has 2 million active, paid subscribers — “a significant milestone among traditional media outlets and a first for a Web site of its kind.” (Quoted from oress release.) The site added more 400,000 subscribers in the last 12 months, representing more than half of the 800,000-plus subscriptions added across all Consumer Reports information products. ConsumerReports.org hit 1 million in paid subs in 2002, five years after its launch. There are three payment levels: an annual subscription for $26, an annual online option for current magazine subscribers for $19 per year or a monthly fee of $4.95.”
What unites the Journal and Consumer Reports: both are branded sites that provide information of sufficient value to justify a charge. To make their experience more useful to small publishers, let me repeat this pronouncement by Jason (Weblogs, Inc.) Calacanis, which I noted in a previous posting : “blog + database + research reports = big business, blog plus nothing = a hobby.”
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media