Why Rupert Murdoch will not make the online Wall Street Journal free. And shouldn’t. 8/6/07Posted by Steve Boriss in Wall Street Journal.
Blogs like Corante are buzzing that new Wall Street Journal (WSJ) owner Rupert Murdoch might want to stop charging subscription fees for its online edition to greatly increase traffic and, presumably, ad revenues. This is such a bad idea, it makes me wonder whether the New Media is catching a case of dinosauritis from Old Media.
Why do so few notice the lesson that Google has taught us about how to make money from the web? They make money not because their site draws so much traffic, but because it draws the right traffic – very specific visitors finely parsed-out among a limitless number of pages defined by each user’s interests as expressed in their keywords. So, Google’s advertisers reach highly segmented audiences consisting only of their best sales prospects – an advertiser’s dream. The online WSJ has a similar gig — every time someone subscribes they might as well be on Google entering keywords that read, “I’ve got extra money to invest, and am willing to pay to receive new information that might change my investment decisions.” For some advertisers, isn’t that a highly segmented audience of tremendously good sales prospects to die for? This all goes away if the online WSJ were to become free.
The power of Old Media was its ability to reach large numbers of relatively undefined prospects through very few channels – terrific if you are a McDonalds’s with everyone as a potential customer. But for all other advertisers, there’s New Media, which has the power to deliver specialized audiences of only the best prospects. “Segmentation” is the new “traffic.”