Online media decide to upload their readers

Subscriber's article

In December 2016, in Paris.
In December 2016, in Paris. LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP

While many netizens have become accustomed to reading multimedia articles online for free, the latest Reuters study, published Thursday, December 6, suggests that they will have to pay more to do so.

Supported, for three years, on a panel of 13 pure European players – including Mediapart and the Huffington Post in France, Correctiv in Germany or El confidential in Spain, researchers at the British University of Oxford noted that these news sites increasingly choose to have their readers register to view their content. And this, while these media have often built a free model financed by advertising.

Undoubtedly, advertising revenues remain a vital economic advantage for many. But, underlines the authors of the study, "The prices paid by advertisers are constantly decreasing because other channels allow them to reach their audience more effectively". In particular, Facebook and Google, which capture 80% of online advertising investments, according to the British company PwC.

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To claim a high audience for advertisers, pure and free players tend to engage "A race for clicks" often detrimental to the quality of information. In reverse, " [leur] the number of subscribers increases when [ils] public[nt] a good article »says David Schraven, the editor of the investigative site Correctiv, interviewed by the Reuters Institute.

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A sometimes forced choice

Under these conditions, opting for a paid model appears as a solution for a growing number of news sites. It remains to choose which: the "freemium", which combines free content and those reserved for subscribers, or the "paywall", which does not give access to any free article or only to a limited number of readings.

However, in many cases, model modification is a sign of fragility. The pure player can not attract enough regular visitors to be able to live advertising. Above all, depends on the subscriptions "It is not without difficulty" the authors, referring to their exchange with Edwy Plenel, the co-founder of Mediapart, fully paid for by its creation, "Who describes as" ruthless "the pressure it represents to keep its subscribers and conquer new ones".

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