Common sense would seem to dictate that when you start charging online readers for access to your content, you’ll see a major decrease in traffic. Obviously, not every reader is going to take out his wallet when you start putting previously free articles behind a pay wall.
Yet, Newsday, which recently started charging $5 a week for Newsday.com to non-subscribers, is looking for any other answer besides the obvious one.
November saw a 34 percent drop in traffic from the month before for the site once it put up a pay wall, and a 35 percent decrease from last November. But Newsday is claiming that last November was a fluke, just an unusually high month of online traffic caused by the 2008 presidential race and murder of a local teacher.
In addition to putting up a pay wall, Newsday.com retains advertising on its site, and a big decrease in unique visitors could potentially lead to a loss in advertising revenue, which may be why the newspaper is scrambling to explain the figures. Still, you can’t have it both ways. With the recent price hike of the paper in New York (which will likely have a similar effect of driving away customers), and the recent changes to the paper’s masthead, no amount of executive assurance will convince advertisers that Newsday isn’t hemorrhaging readers. And if Newsday‘s pay wall — which was already considered a risky decision in the industry — turns out to be a failure, what will that mean for the rest of the publications that have followed suit or plan to do so soon?
Read More: Pay Wall Drives Newsday.com Traffic Down, Paper Says According To Plan –MediaPost