The recent switch to digital subscription by the NY Times has me changing my behavior, but not as you’d think.
It happened at the end of the month when I had used up my allotted 20 articles. Initially, I thought about using all three of my emails so I could read up to 60 articles – scared I go over my 20 per month. I know you’re thinking “don’t be cheap”, but it’s not that I am averse to paying, it’s that I am not a subscriber, and probably will never be. I don’t like to subscribe or sign long contracts, because I don’t like to feel hemmed in, it restricts my perceived freedom. This is not because of being cheap, on the contrary it’s probably more costly in the long run, but its worth more to me to know I am not committed to anyone.
Sure, certain services and situations are unavoidable to subscription. Things like mortgages or rent contracts, maybe car payments, life insurance policies, internet subscription, and maybe at some point a phone contract. I am still rocking a pre paid – 3 years strong – but feel that a contract is nigh. But news? In today’s age? Seems incongruous.
So back to my behavior. Recently I found myself scanning the NYT front page more carefully, knowing a click could become a wasted click – I would rather click on something worthy, in other words being a lot more frugal with what I clicked on. Previous visits to NYT would have me clicking freely on anything that piqued my interest. Not anymore.
What has happened?
I now use The Guardian for my heavy lifting, and the NYT for my US centric news. I use the BBC app on my iPad, and skim NYT for headlines.
In other words, LESS reading, MORE scanning at NYT.
So the question would be – will NYT’s loss in my readership (and people like me) be supplemented by digital subscribers?
It would be interesting to see how it develops, because on one hand you would have a lot more page views, and therefore more display ads, and on the other hand, you could lose readers like me, but gain subscribers and their meta data, which in turn could be more valuable in serving targeted ads.
Some other users’ behavior changes:
@shapshak reads as many articles as he can to reach his allotted 20, come month end
@JacquesR doesn’t log in and then clears his cookies to avoid being capped
Gizmodo also has some tricks up their sleeve
Niemanlab has an in-depth post about it all