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2 July 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:18am

Why time may be against the new Times paywall

Success is not just based on the number of subscribers. It’s what those subscribers do.

By Jon Bernstein

Are you missing it yet? It’s day one of the Times/Sunday Times paywall and given that much of the registration period talk has been of the dramatic decline in traffic, perhaps the answer is no.

But if you are one of the loyalists, you may be the cause of other alarm for News International: namely, it appears that those showing a willingness to pay are spending less time on the site when they do visit.

The graph below comes from Alexa, and the usual caveats with this kind of public domain data apply. What it appears to show, however, is that the average time spent on the site has dropped from a three-month high of four minutes, 20 seconds per visit to a low of two minutes per visit.

And this matters why? Well, because the business model is predicated not only on attracting paying customers, but serving high-yielding adverts to that audience. The less time visitors spend on the site, the fewer ads News International can serve.

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If the Alexa numbers reflect what NI is finding from its own web analytics, this is a problem that needs rectifying. And fast.

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Times by time


Meanwhile, the second graph confirms what Robin Goad of Experian Hitwise was telling the Today programme this morning: the Independent now has more traffic than the Times for the very first time.

This in itself is no disaster for the Times. But it does need to make its subscriber base pay. In more ways than one.

Times traffic