Telegraph’s paywall plans make me despair for the news industry – and not for the reasons you think

The first link I clicked from Twitter when I saw the news about the Telegraph’s new charging plans was a blog post by Roy Greenslade. It started with these two sentences:

“The Daily Telegraph is going to charge for access to its website, becoming the first British general interest newspaper to employ the metered paywall model. People will be allowed to read just 20 articles a month on the paper’s site for free.”

Interesting use of the word “just” there.

So I went to the Telegraph site to get some statistics about how many unique users they have, and how many page impressions they generate, to actually put some numbers into the argument. Because despite being a mere small-scale blog, I do like my facts and figures.

Now, from having spent a long time looking at news website analytics over the years I happen to know that the numbers will almost certainly say that the average number of pages viewed per user per month is between 1 and 5, or something of that magnitude. The only people who will get caught up in the twenty articles a month bracket are:

  1. Telegraph super-users and loyalists, who may be tempted to add a print subscription into their package, and can certainly be marketed in that direction over the coming months.
  2. Super-heavy news consumers and industry people like myself, who will presumably just tuck it into their business expenses like I do with my Times subscription. And now they’ll have more data about me.

Both of those situations seems like a win for the Telegraph to me.

Except I can’t use the numbers to prove that.

Because when I went to the Telegraph website, to find out what their new plan might mean to me as a digital advertiser, which is where I hoped to find the figures, it turns out the digital media pack on their advertising site hasn’t been updated since 2011.

One of the main online tools to interest people in their online advertising hasn’t been updated since 2011.

Two thousand and eleven.

Sometimes I just despair of our industry’s approach to digital, I really do…

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