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June 4, 2013, 11:47 a.m.
LINK: www.journalism.co.uk  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   June 4, 2013

Sarah Marshall at journalism.co.uk has a report from a talk at the World Newspaper Congress in Bangkok from John Stackhouse, editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail. I hadn’t realized the Globe’s paywall was so complicated:

Interestingly, the Globe and Mail colour-codes articles internally. Green content is free and includes horoscopes and weather; yellow content is available for the metered paywall, with readers able to access 10 articles before being required to pay; blue is for niche content, which is subject to metering but the dial can be changed; and red is premium content that is available to subscribers only.

For instance, this Rob Ford-related piece is subscriber-only — not for the non-paying metered crowd. Presumably, that’s “red.” But as far as I can tell, there’s no easy way for the reader to know which stories are green, yellow, or blue.

globeandmailWhile that all seems complicated, I understand the appeal of putting the wall in different places for different types of readers with different usage patterns. Presumably, they can tinker based on the uptake data they’re seeing. It’s still quite opaque, though. (I know I read many more than 10 Globe articles in May — Rob Ford, mostly, but also a fun Senate scandal and the Tim Bosma murder case — and I never got a demand to pay up.)

The journalism.co.uk piece has some other interesting tidbits, most notably this, which was a surprise to me:

The churn rate is reassuringly low, with 90 per cent of people who signed up for a 99 cent trial deal then paying the full subscription price of $20 a month.

Ninety percent conversion from trial to full price? That is quite a feat. (Insert Canadian stereotype here.)

If you didn’t see it back in October, check out our Q&A with Globe publisher Phillip Crawley about their paywall plans.

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