A couple of months ago we told you about Rupert Murdoch’s plan to charge access to The Times websites. With the newspaper group losing more money each day than most of us earn in a lifetime, he needed to make a big and bold change.
Following the change, the inevitable happened: Traffic to The Times plummeted. Although Murdoch himself claims the service is doing alright, the fact of the matter is that visitor numbers are just a fraction of what they used to be.
Content should be free!
The problem of course is that in the Internet age most people think that content – information – should be free. Newspapers have lost their paid gateway to what’s going on in the world. Much of the traffic to the Times came from Google, as it indexed The Times news stories and reproduced them in the Search Results.
But with a paywall blocking their access, Google can no longer see that content, so they can’t list The Times in the search results. So not only is no-one willing to subscribe to the content, none of us knows what they’re writing about anyway!
Here comes ‘Newspass’
Now it’s time for a drumroll. Google are riding to the rescue of The Times – and other newspapers who want to charge users for access to content – with a new micropayment platform called Newspass.
Based on Google checkout, this would allow users to make small payments to websites in order to access specific stories or content. The really great feature of Newspass is that it would allow Google to continue to index all of the newspapers content that would normally sit behind the paywall. This means they could continue to show up in the Search Results, and would therefore continue to get traffic. Google would indicate that the content would be paid-for with a small paywall icon beside the snippet in the search results.
Google say that they are “uniquely positioned to help publishers create a scalable ecommerce system via our Checkout product and also enable users to find this content via search, even if it’s behind a paywall”.
So Google is the Newspaper Saviour
So might Google rescue The Times in the end? Would you be willing to pay to access news stories? Is this also good news for website builders, who might be able to charg in future for access to their content?
Leave us a comment below.