Here it is, the eve of the NYTimes.com worldwide paywall implementation. As you may know, we here in Canada (the Great White Test Market) have been living with it for the past two weeks.
I have made no secret of the fact that I am not at all a fan of paywalls:
- They keep newspaper companies and their employees focused on the company they were, not the company they’re going to be.
- They distract senior executives and key staff from engaging in true innovation as they spend months working out paywall policies, prices and technologies.
- They both literally and figurately put a wall between newspapers and their audiences, making it very difficult to build the kind of engaged audiences who can drive ROI for advertisers.
- And, it pretty much sacrifices the under 30’s in a market – in the form of both readers and potential employee talent. They simply won’t pay for content and they don’t want to work for someone who is charging for it.
So yes, I hate paywalls.
But something in the past two weeks has caught my notice. Since the paywall (or is it a pay fence?) went up in Canada, I’ve seen a sharp increase in the number of Canadians in my social graph posting NYT links on both Twitter and Facebook.
Is this a new form of politeness? If a link comes through social media, it doesn’t count toward the Times’ 20 article limit. Could it be that folks are posting more NYT links to give their friends and followers more access to free content?
Could the paywall actually make the Times more social? And even more interesting, could it be that the Times actually anticipated this when they created the strategy?
Nah… It couldn’t be. Could it?