I Can Find It For Free

I have been involved in the Internet industry a long time.  Much much longer than most people reading this ever heard of Netscape.  Much much longer than most people reading this have been online.

Well a long time ago in a place far far away the evil empire with its death star logo known as AT&T came into the Internet access market and dropped prices by 40%, wiping out the profit margins for the startup where I was working at the time.

One of our strategies for fixing this problem was to create what we called incremental revenue.  Revenue from things other than access.  And we dreamed up all kinds of services that we could upsell our customer base on.  And being good little marketers we toted this ideas into a room with M&M's and a one way mirror so that we could watch our customers reaction to our brilliant ideas. 

Within minutes our plans were dashed.  One participant pretty quickly declared "I can find it for free at…" to a quick discussion and nodding of heads.  This was repeated over and over again.  It has been repeated over and over again in every research project that I have been involved in on the subject.  People don't want to pay for content on the Internet because they believe, they know, they can find it somewhere for free.

I bring this up as the fact that Newsday has garnered a total to 35 subscribers to its paywall service in the last 90 days.  Nine thousand dollars in revenue on a web property that cost $4 million (an ungodly sum) to redesign and relaunch.

People will not pay for Internet content that they can find for free elsewhere.  Trying to get them to do so is foolish. 

January 27, 2010  |  Comments  |  Tweet  |  Posted in Current Affairs, Internet