In previous blog articles (here)Â I’ve covered the various business models of media and in particular the pay wall model adopted by The Times.
A Slideshare presentation by Made by Many puts the emphasis on Cultural Relevancy being a key driver for driving traffic to generalist online news sites. Typically, people share news that is relevant to them, and this has always been the case even before the internet as we know it today became ubiquitous.
Therefore as in the case of The Times, the moment a barrier, in the form of the pay wall was put up, it’s cultural relevancy has been stunted by a lack of sharing.
In order to perform a meaningful comparison I measured The Times against The Huffington Post:
It becomes clear that in terms of cultural relevancy, a lot more social media equity is contained within The Huffington Post when compared with the Times.
Neverthless I wanted to make sure I was comparing apples with apples and focused purely on online news in the UK. In this case The Times vs The Guardian.
Again The Times is significantly behind those online news publications which are free.
But let’s not assume that a pay wall is a barrier for conversation and sharing of content. The evidence would suggest it impacts specifically general online news. When you start to apply specialist online subscription services – such as the FT, cultural relevancy is not impacted.
What becomes evident is that cultural relevancy is determined by three core factors: relevant content, directed to an engaged audience, which encourages conversation. The strategy employed by The Times has diminished it’s cultural relevancy by starving conversation.
Contrast that with subscription services that offer specialist insight such as The Economist or the FT.com which maintains and encourages an eco-system based on dialogue and sharing.
Cultural relevancy is not about paid or free content, it’s about making content a talking point that’s relevant to you, the consumer.