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January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" 
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
ChronoSpark wrote:
Hal_10000 wrote:
I think, in the end, we're going to have to go to a cable model -- i.e., you pay your ISP for access, your ISP pays fees to popular websites for access to them, just like they do with cable channels. Eventually, some bright boy at a site like the NYT is going to figure out that the ISP's are making tons of money of of *their* content and demand a piece. Or they will block every subscriber to that ISP.

That's the only business model I can see working.

Um, no. No, no, no. That is horrible. I'm sorry, but I'm a firm believer in net neutrality. I don't want this to become a reality. Or worse. It's just a disgusting idea in my opinion.


Just like with cable TV, it may not be the worst idea, but its the SUBSCRIBER who should decide what "channels" / "websites" they want as opposed to the ISP making those decisions.

I don't think this is realistic however, especially when it comes to X-rated sites, and obscure sites. How are terrorists and pedophiles going to access their obscure sites? :? Its a weird scenario...


Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:36 am
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
*Frantically clicks on ads* Don't go out of business James nooooooooooooooo

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Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:11 am
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
I may be in the minority here, but when the NYTimes starts charging, I will gladly pay. It's been my first stop in the morning for many years now. It's got a higher signal-to-noise ratio than any other site I regularly visit, with the possible exception of this one. I know that content costs a lot of money to produce, and I don't want to see it go away.

As to why I don't just subscribe, like James, I'm horribly clumsy at handling the large pages, and maybe other people have different skin chemistry from mine, but when I'm done reading a dead-tree newspaper, it looks like I've been mining coal with my bare hands.


Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:02 am
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
Patrick wrote:
As much as it pains me to say this, I have to agree with Guiness on the ink thing. Not once have I ever got ink on my hands.


Never read the NYT on a regular basis, so I can't comment whether that gives black fingers or not. But there was a time in the '80s when I read the Philadelphia Inquirer daily and every time I finished with the paper, I had to wash my hands. Some days it was worse than others. I can recall handling a pristine copy of a term paper I had typed up the night before and getting grayish fingerprints on it. Had to re-type the page. That was a pain in the ass.


Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:00 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
MrGuinness wrote:

Quote:
What I don't understand is why papers need charge less amount of money for online ads than print. Are online ads that much more "blind" than the ones on paper? I never thought so. If anything, they are more attractive because they are all in color and support moving images. I know there are ad blockers, but I just don't your average Joe uses them.


I have a feeling JB is going to jump all over this part from his personal experience...


Not exactly "jump." The fees that online advertisers have been willing to pay have been decreasing steadily in recent years. Doesn't matter if you're a big website or a small one. (The big ones get higher rates, but they're still not close to what they were five years ago.)

My 2008 revenue was 50% higher than my 2009 revenue - and I had more pageviews and added the Netflix pop-unders in 2009. It wouldn't surprise me if 2010 is worse. One of the reasons the NYT is going to start charging is because they're only making pennies from on-line ad sales. The only way to defeat ad blindness is to introduce really intrusive ads - crawls that overspread the text, roadblocks, etc. And that enrages some people. I could be making close to double what I'm currently making if I employed those methods and brought back the old Kontera ads (the so-called "contextual ads" where keywords are underlined), but the percentage of readership I would lose would offset the increase in revenue, so it's not worth it.

I'm not saying any of this out of a desire for pity or sympathy, but to put things in context regarding the NYT's decision. They face a lot of the same issues.


Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:10 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
While it's easy to sit back and chuckle about what's happening to newspapers, I think it's very possible that web sites will be encountering similar revenue-related issues in the near future. The fact that the NYT is trying this is evidence of that.

Ad rates are low for us on The BigScreen Cinema Guide as well, but not horribly low. We put a fair amount of effort into balancing ad content and real content, and we always try to fall on the side of being conservative with the number of ads that appear on a page and their prominence. It's a balancing act, and you're never going to make everyone happy.

I think introducing a subscription model on this site is worth considering, but with some differences to the approaches that James mentioned.

I believe in offering readers a choice to see content for free and seeing ads and to see the content completely free of ads, in exchange for a small subscription fee. This is the approach we take with our VIP Service. Those that pay the fee do not see any ads on the site, and they get rewarded with extra features that are not available to non-paying subscribers. None of the base content on our site is hidden behind a subscription wall, and I think that's important to maintain. I think we do need to reduce our yearly fee to attract more people to it, which we'll be investigating in the near future.

I suggest that James provide an option for ad-free viewing in exchange for a small subscription fee. What that fee is set at is the challenge. $10 a month is completely unrealistic, and I think that $10 a year is also too high. Some sites take a more flexible approach, where they allow their readers to contribute what it is worth to them, no matter how much that is. We might just try that for a short time to see how that works out.

Something else that might work is for James to offer syndication for his reviews, to see if some outlets would be willing to pick up his reviews for a small fee.

Getting back to the New York Times experiment, I think it will ultimately fail and they'll end up trying something else. I don't frequent the New York Times web site, nor do I subscribe to their paper, so I don't have any perspective on the quality of their articles or the ease of navigation on their site. However, if they're like most newspapers that have online sites, the site provides a vast majority of the local news that is offered by the print version, and it's free. I think the people that still get the printed paper are those that still have an attachment to the medium of printed word on paper.

The problem with the web sites for many newspapers is that they are really bad, from the perspective of being a web-based publication. It's like they took the content from the printed paper and applied all the same concepts of navigation and advertising, and tried to make them work on the screen in the same way.

I would be willing to subscribe to a news web site (and pay for it) if it truly delivered news customized for me, in an easy to use format and in a variety of ways. I want to set up alerts for topics and get an E-Mail whenever stories are available that match those topics. I want to mark a story as something that I'm interested in, and have the site recommend stories that cover similar topics (perhaps using Bayesian filtering). I want to be able to read the story on the web site from my PC and/or from my iPhone, with equivalent ease. If I get a Kindle, I want it there too. Same customized experience for me as a paying reader no matter how or where I choose to read.

Maybe the stories need to have abridged and complete versions that will work for the different devices out there. For example, when I'm reading from my iPhone, maybe I just want to get the major high points of the story because I'm skimming while waiting in the doctor's office or something, but then give me the option to view a more in-depth story if I'm more interested.

If newspaper sites can start to deliver the news while taking advantage of the best features of the medium of the Internet and web browsers/iPhone/Android apps, they may be more worth paying for. As long as they are generic, non-customized online equivalents of the printed page, I think they're going to have a very hard time getting people to pay for that when there are so many other sites that will provide most or all of the same information.

It will be interesting to watch what happens to the New York Times' experiment!

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Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:43 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
MrGuinness wrote:
ChronoSpark wrote:
Hal_10000 wrote:
I think, in the end, we're going to have to go to a cable model -- i.e., you pay your ISP for access, your ISP pays fees to popular websites for access to them, just like they do with cable channels. Eventually, some bright boy at a site like the NYT is going to figure out that the ISP's are making tons of money of of *their* content and demand a piece. Or they will block every subscriber to that ISP.

That's the only business model I can see working.

Um, no. No, no, no. That is horrible. I'm sorry, but I'm a firm believer in net neutrality. I don't want this to become a reality. Or worse. It's just a disgusting idea in my opinion.


Just like with cable TV, it may not be the worst idea, but its the SUBSCRIBER who should decide what "channels" / "websites" they want as opposed to the ISP making those decisions.

I don't think this is realistic however, especially when it comes to X-rated sites, and obscure sites. How are terrorists and pedophiles going to access their obscure sites? :? Its a weird scenario...

So you mean I choose the 10 websites I can visit rather than the ISP? "Man... I really need access to Rotten Tomatoes, but to have 11 websites, I need to pay an extra $5. ..I'm already paying $50 a month for the 10 websites I already have!"

Like you said, it's not realistic. Though for obscure sites I'd just pick something randomly informative on StumbleUpon (a service one would lose under this anti net neutrality scenario) rather than go down the road of pedophilia and terrorism. :lol:

The internet was intended to be open to everyone, and it should stay that way.

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Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:14 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
James wrote: "That perspective is why ReelViews will never be a pay site. If the ads prove to be insufficient to support it, the site will close down."

That's very discouraging to hear. Many of my favorite websites have no ads. The site owners pay to maintain their pages because it is a passion of theirs. Some accept donations from the community; many do not even do that. It is a labor of love. I had assumed that was how you felt about Reelviews. I hope you find a way to keep the site going. Reelviews is easily my favorite resource for film reviews.


Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:30 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
johnfrank1970 wrote:
That's very discouraging to hear. Many of my favorite websites have no ads. The site owners pay to maintain their pages because it is a passion of theirs. Some accept donations from the community; many do not even do that. It is a labor of love. I had assumed that was how you felt about Reelviews.


Let's not get too dicouraged The guy did this for free for over a decade and has endeavored to minimize the intrusion of ads into the reviews he writes for people like you and me. He clearly has more than mercenary intentions.

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Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:35 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
JamesKunz wrote:
johnfrank1970 wrote:
That's very discouraging to hear. Many of my favorite websites have no ads. The site owners pay to maintain their pages because it is a passion of theirs. Some accept donations from the community; many do not even do that. It is a labor of love. I had assumed that was how you felt about Reelviews.


Let's not get too dicouraged The guy did this for free for over a decade and has endeavored to minimize the intrusion of ads into the reviews he writes for people like you and me. He clearly has more than mercenary intentions.


Agreed completely. I am very appreciative of his work. His quote, however, left little wiggle room. He has every right to do as he wishes with his site. I was surprised by his quote because I thought the ads were an attempt to get some extra (deserved) income. I did not realize that the very existence of Reelviews could depend on them.


Last edited by johnfrank1970 on Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:20 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:47 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
James Berardinelli wrote:
I could be making close to double what I'm currently making if I employed those methods and brought back the old Kontera ads (the so-called "contextual ads" where keywords are underlined), but the percentage of readership I would lose would offset the increase in revenue, so it's not worth it.


Are you 100% sure of this? Granted, it is fucking annoying, and CNN.com is filled with it, but I never stopped reading you or them because of it.


Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:13 pm
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
BigScreen wrote:
I believe in offering readers a choice to see content for free and seeing ads and to see the content completely free of ads, in exchange for a small subscription fee. This is the approach we take with our VIP Service. Those that pay the fee do not see any ads on the site, and they get rewarded with extra features that are not available to non-paying subscribers. None of the base content on our site is hidden behind a subscription wall, and I think that's important to maintain. I think we do need to reduce our yearly fee to attract more people to it, which we'll be investigating in the near future.


I think this is a terrific idea!

Quote:
I suggest that James provide an option for ad-free viewing in exchange for a small subscription fee. What that fee is set at is the challenge. $10 a month is completely unrealistic, and I think that $10 a year is also too high. Some sites take a more flexible approach, where they allow their readers to contribute what it is worth to them, no matter how much that is. We might just try that for a short time to see how that works out.


I'm game for $19.95 a year :)


Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:16 pm
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
BigScreen wrote:
I think the people that still get the printed paper are those that still have an attachment to the medium of printed word on paper.


Part of the problem of online viewing for me is that you don't get to see the whole thing, and browsing a newspaper makes you to read headlines, which you can then see if there is something in depth or limited and decide to read. Finding headlines online is a PITA, and not conducive to the way people were taught to read. Ok, well, maybe to the way I was taught 20 years ago.

Quote:
I want to set up alerts for topics and get an E-Mail whenever stories are available that match those topics. I want to mark a story as something that I'm interested in, and have the site recommend stories that cover similar topics (perhaps using Bayesian filtering).


See, and I hate this... I hate hoping that some bayesian filter or corporate filter worse yet is going to make the right choices for me. I hate this ALOT. Life is not supposed to be so complicated that you can't find things you are interested in, and just hope someone else will do it for you. This is a huge problem in society today, IMO. Yeah, I know it ain't gonna change, but fuck 'em. :!:

BTW, BigScreen... great post :)


Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:22 pm
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
ChronoSpark wrote:
The internet was intended to be open to everyone, and it should stay that way.


That is a more recent intent. The internet was intended for universities to share information.

Now all of a sudden, everyone wants that information for free.

All art becomes part of the public domain. I wonder where that will lead.


And now for something completely off the subject (isnt there a single word for that statement?)...
maybe its time to change my avatar...


Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:24 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
Quote:
Perhaps James should consider adding a donation button.

I've see several sites that have such a feature.
Usually with something like this: "If you like this website please make a donation to help us defer the cost of maintaining the content."
It can be linked with PayPal to make it easy.

It is better than turning Reelviews into a subscription site and allows the viewer to make their own decision about paying for the content.
An option could even be included that would allow donors to make a single donation or make a donation on a regular basis.
Say, once a month or twice a month or every three months or so.
Then the revenue stream becomes continuous and to a certain extent even reliable.


I like this idea. And maybe you can get something in return if you donate a certain amount. Like James reviewing a movie of your choice.


Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:39 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
calvero wrote:
Quote:
Perhaps James should consider adding a donation button.

I've see several sites that have such a feature.
Usually with something like this: "If you like this website please make a donation to help us defer the cost of maintaining the content."
It can be linked with PayPal to make it easy.

It is better than turning Reelviews into a subscription site and allows the viewer to make their own decision about paying for the content.
An option could even be included that would allow donors to make a single donation or make a donation on a regular basis.
Say, once a month or twice a month or every three months or so.
Then the revenue stream becomes continuous and to a certain extent even reliable.


I like this idea. And maybe you can get something in return if you donate a certain amount. Like James reviewing a movie of your choice.
Yeah, I definitely like that idea! If it were an option, then I would definitely donate!


Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:46 pm
Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
calvero wrote:
I like this idea. And maybe you can get something in return if you donate a certain amount. Like James reviewing a movie of your choice.



If I donate, can i get James to change his opinion of the Josie and the Pussycats movie? :P


Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:52 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
Uh huh. We can be like James' patron. Just as people used to commission portraits, we'll commission movie reviews.

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Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:13 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
The problem with a donation is that it is going to be a one-time source of revenue per person, and the person donating gets nothing in return besides the warm fuzzy feeling from having donated. If the site owners asks for a donation again, it could be construed as being inappropriate by those who donated what they thought they should have the first time around.

I'm biased because of the approach that we are taking, but I think it's far better to give someone something in return for the payment. It introduces responsibility on the part of the site owner, and a reasonable expectation by the paying party that something will come of the money paid. It forms a normal business relationship between both parties, and there's very little ambiguity, whereas there is nothing but ambiguity with donations.

That's just my opinion, though...

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Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:21 pm
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Post Re: January 26, 2010: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"
MrGuinness wrote:
And now for something completely off the subject (isnt there a single word for that statement?)...
maybe its time to change my avatar...


CHANGE IT BACK! CHANGE IT BACK!

As for donations, you can get a Paypal account and put a donate button on the site. It's not technically a one-time thing and I don't think it's even that intrusive...which may be counter-productive but it saves on donation drives.


Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:51 pm
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