Monday, April 09, 2012

Are "microsurveys" a viable alternative to "paywalls" for smaller online newspapers

There is some controversy in the digital publishing world now about a new service, Google Customer Survey’s, as an alternative to a “paywall”, especially for smaller newspapers. The Online Publishers' Association (link) sent out an email about this today.   A number of smaller papers, like the New York Daily News and Texas Tribune, use it.  A visitor sees only part of a selected article until the visitor answers a “microsurvey” question, which will help advertisers place material on the smaller newspaper’s site effectively. “Adweek” has an article (link) on the service, here, and says that the concept could save digital publishing.  Some businessmen, such as HDNet’s Mark Cuban (who appears on “Shark Tank”), don’t like this idea. (Cuban’s own blog link makes amusing, sometimes inspiring reading. "Don't follow your passion, follow your effort".)

The microsurvey idea sounds important particularly in view of the “do not track” debate. But some visitors may distrust surveys and be annoyed by them, as some "social surveys" have been associated with malware, made available with misspelled common domain names. 

Google has offered a paywall service itself, called “Google One Pass”, discussed here

Another paywall service popular with some papers (maybe 200 or so) is “Press+” (or Press Plus), link here

The Wall Street Journal has a new article about paywalls from the AP, April 3, here

The simple fact is, that in this day of increasing sensitivity about privacy (and “do not track” options), publishing services need to maintain a business model that can bring in revenue and keep people employed, with benefits. It’s “simple capitalism”, but not “extreme capitalism”.  

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