In an interview with The Drum, the company ruled out introducing a blanket paywall like The Times. Instead, users will be able to access a fixed number of news stories before they have to subscribe, while ‘rolling news, commercial content and national sports stories are also likely to remain open for view”.
Managing director Tim Blott told The Drum:
It’s a question of improving the online proposition to a level where we felt we could charge for it. We’ve got to a position where we believe where we can introduce registration, which is starting to catch up.
Now we can start to look at content and get more involved in that content, which is where we are now. By the end of the year we believe that we will have a sufficiently engaged audience who will then be prepared to start paying.
Mark Smith, the digital director brought in to oversee the new online strategy, said its focus will shift from unique users to drawing a ‘quality audience’of repeat visitors to appeal to advertisers.
That’s what our focus needs to be the value of someone in Peru visiting Herald Scotland once and never coming back is zero. The industry has generally been kidding themselves when it talks about ‘monthly uniques’ and the vast majority of those ‘uniques’ are not engaging with their brand.
They are just happening to find an article through Google by chance and never coming back. We are recognising that and focusing primarily on real numbers. Our key metric is not monthly uniques, it’s repeat visitors.