In an effort to increase its audience and make itself more attractive
advertisers, the Microsoft-owned online magazine Slate has abandoned its
subscription-fee-based, old-media-style business model in favor of
all surfers free access to its Web site.
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"We're backing down," admitted Slate's Michael Kinsley in an
emailed to the site's current subscribers February 12. "It now looks as
if it's going to be easier to sell ads but harder to sell subscriptions
than we thought a year ago. ... Ad revenue from the increased traffic
will more than compensate for the lost subscriptions."
Newly appointed Publisher Scott Moore, who replaced Rogers Weed last
week, said that certain premium services such as email and archive
access would continue to be offered to subscribers at the same
$19.95/year rate. Access to all current editorial content at the Slate
slate.com, will become free.
With this move, Slate acknowledges and joins the burgeoning,
fast-developing ads-for-access model that has become a vital paradigm in
ecommerce. In it, information and other products (email accounts,
Internet access, computer hardware sold at or below cost or simply given
away) are studded with advertisements and distributed freely to end
users. The Web sites concerned make their profits selling audiences to
advertisers, rather than selling content, widgets, etc, to audiences.