KPMG research published this morning revealed that when web users were asked whether they would continue using a news site they visited regularly if it set up a pay wall, a mere 10% said that they would, while 79% said that they would not continue using the site.
With The Telegraph reportedly investigating the option of a pay wall for its content and The Times having made the same decision in May this year, PR chiefs have foreseen a growing challenge for the industry.
Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of MHP, said: ‘I think that the Telegraph and Times taking a lead points to a general direction. I think we are going to see increasing use of pay walls, and the test on whether they succeed will be whether the sites have specialist enough content to justify the payment. If anything, therefore, PROs will become increasingly important, so long as they work closely with the titles to help them to create the specialist content that readers will want to see.'
Brendon Craigie, UK managing director at Hotwire PR, added: ‘We are at an impasse, with media brands competing to provide consumers with a 24-hour diet of news and analysis, while trying to uphold high journalistic standards against a backdrop of ferocious global competition. In this situation savvy media companies are realising that they must identify and hold on to their core market even if it means charging them more to deliver what they want.
‘While behind early innovators like the FT, The Telegraph is right to pursue this strategy as more and more consumers move to digital consumption of their favourite media, it is the right time to be asking for them to pay for this convenience. Ultimately, however, pay walls are only as successful as the quality and uniqueness of the content on offer.’