I kept hearing off and on all day today about the “paywall” thing hitting the New York Times today. Apparently the idea is to monetize the small end of the news media’s money bucket: traditionally, 25% of revenues comes from subscriptions, the remainder comes from advertisers.
Folks blathered on all day about how it was either going to save the industry or was the biggest waste of time ever. While listening to said blathering, I honestly didn’t stop to consider two things:
1. How, exactly, did they manage to spend $40 million on a paywall?
2. What sort of paywall does $40 million buy you?
I’ll answer #2 first. Apparently $40 million buys you a paywall that’s not worth a damn. This one can be defeated by a really simple stylesheet hack.
To me, this just smacks of total and complete incompetence… rule #1 in client-server development is, You don’t send things you don’t want seen out to the client. I mean, we’ve known that for decades.
For #1, I honestly don’t have an answer. I don’t know how a business that makes the majority of it’s revenue from subscription and advertisement spends $40 million dollars creating a system to track who is reading what when.
What I do know is that an advertising and subscription business that’s not already tracking this stuff is probably not going to be in business for long (perhaps that’s the root of the print media’s problem right there)… and that I would have built the thing for the low price of $1 million.
NYT, when you start looking for folks to fix this fiasco for you, let me know!