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Herald publisher in partial paywall plan

A leading Scottish publisher has announced it is to introduce a partial paywall for online content later this year.

The Glasgow-based Herald and Times group, whose titles include The Herald, Evening Times and Sunday Herald, is to move to a subscription-based online strategy, bosses have revealed.

The initiative by the Newsquest-owned publisher is potentially the most signifcant move toward online paywalls in the regional press since the short-lived experiment by Edinburgh-based rivals Johnston Press 18 months ago.

It was revealed in an announcement on the HeraldScotland website and also in an interview by managing director Tim Blott and digital director Mark Smith on Glasgow-based media website The Drum.

In the interview, Tim ruled out the introduction of a blanket paywall along the lines of that introduced by The Times.

He said that readers will be able to access rolling news, sport and commercial content but would have to subscribe for some other online content.

“For UK-wide publications who are dealing with content which is very similar to what appears elsewhere, then I can understand where they are struggling to find how they could sell that content, when it’s appearing in a number of other publications, or the BBC or elsewhere,” Tim told The Drum.

“What we’re talking about is content that is specifically Scottish and is sufficiently distinct so that people will say ‘I cannot get that content from any other publication or any other news organisation.”

He added: “It’s a question of improving the online proposition to a level where we felt we could charge for it. We’ve got to a position where we believe where we can introduce registration, which is starting to catch up.

“Now we can start to look at content and get more involved in that content, which is where we are now. By the end of the year we believe that we will have a sufficiently engaged audience who will then be prepared to start paying.”

Mark said the HeraldScotland platform plans to focus on drawing a ‘quality audience’ in order to offer more to its advertisers rather than counting unique users.

“The value of someone in Peru visiting HeraldScotland once and never coming back is zero. The industry has generally been kidding themselves when it talks about ‘monthly uniques’ and the vast majority of those ‘uniques’ are not engaging with their brand,” he said.

“They are just happening to find an article through Google by chance and never coming back. We are recognising that and focusing primarily on real numbers.

“Our key metric is not monthly uniques, it’s repeat visitors.”

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  • August 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Have these gentlemen read the content of the Evening Times?

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