Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Virtuous Circles

The ever interesting Felix Salmon has reasons for optimism about the future of Paywalls. In particular, he notes how the porous paywall of the NYT beats the FT paywall (which is consumer unfriendly and annoying).

But even better is the marketing opportunity that this sort of paywall creates:

Those paying digital subscribers, however, are much more valuable than their subscription streams alone would suggest. They’re hugely loyal, they read loads of stories, they’re well-heeled, and advertisers will pay a premium to reach them. Judging by the second-quarter results, which is admittedly early days, it seems as though total digital ad revenues are going up, not down, as subscriptions get introduced: the holy grail of paywalls.

This is a principle worth keeping in mind -- there are virtuous circles as well as vicious ones. Not only does the NYT get to collect predictable revenue from a steady stream of subscribers (and predictable revenue is worth a lot), it also gets an advertising boost from being able to identify these readers. It's an amazing outcome and I remain delighted that it worked out for them.

Now I wonder if we could try and apply these principles to public health. How can we create incentives where patients identify themselves in ways that save money and are happy to do so? Because when you manage to get these sorts of two for one punches, efficiency is massively improved.

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