Times Select For Free and Revenues

A Poynter Institute discussion group I'm on pointed me to ValleyWag's assertion that the NY Times' decision drop the pay wall from TimesSelect has been a boon, due to increased audience. But the question, from a business perspective, is whether the increase in traffic, in ad inventory served (be it inbound, on outbound on widgets or whatever) can ultimately overcome for the loss in subscription

Subscription revenues were basically flat, and not growing. The Times worked
to optimize their site, so it comes up much higher in search, and has
launched a bunch of blogs (which are naturally optimized). So their strategy
is clearly to attract traffic. That said, the opinion pages are not a
high-price sell ... Ads placed there cannot typically get a premium. (Which,
publisher Sulzberger told me, is one reason they were put behind the wall
originally -- make money off subs, since they couldn't really make money off
selling high-priced ads, as is possible for the tech and business sections.)
But with big increases in traffic, more relational ad targeting (that can
get a high-value user even on a lower-value page), better optimization, and
more chances to "monetize" traffic through outbound means, the Times seems
to think the equation has changed. There may be other ways to make money,
too, through lead generation, subscriptions to print, conferences,
e-commerce and so on, all of which should increase with more traffic.

The thought-leader issue is also important to the Times, from
both a journalistic and brand perspective.

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