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January 20, 2005

Snow Job

Some days it pays to work from home. I didn't experience anything like this, for instance

The above is from the front page of the News and Observer.* Normally I'd just link to it, but for some reason neither the picture nor the accompanying story is on the web. In addition, the clueless dolts internet-challenged management of the N&O have decide it's in their best interests to force visitors to go through a cumbersome login/registration process before allowing them at the content.

Note: It does not matter how "easy" they claim the process is. Simply requiring users to go through it qualifies as "cumbersome," not to mention "annoying," "off-putting," and "maddening." I can get my online news elsewhere without having to jump through a damned hoop, so I will.

For those desperate for a hit of regional reporting power, The N&R is still open. The already-set-up N&O Bugmenot account can be seen here, and the front page in all it's glory is available as a pdf.

I'm pretty much come to the conclusion that the most papers with an online registration like that of the N&O's have decided that forcing registrations is a good idea in that not only pushes up their raw circulation numbers, but provides them with something they can refer to as "personal data" while they're flogging online ads to a potential advertiser. The fact that a significant number of logins are faked doesn't bother them one whit. A number is a number when it comes to charging advertisers for eyeballs, and so it doesn't matter that many of the digits in question don't actually represent a real person--though a clever marketer could raise those numbers, claiming that hundreds if not thousands of users use the Bugmenot accounts, thus pushing web circulation numbers--and advertising rates--still higher.

I've gotten to the point now that I assume a newspaper is lying when they quote circulation numbers, no matter what those numbers happen to be. For me, the burden of proof when it comes to circulation is on the newspaper these days, and it does not appear that any of them are very eager to take a hard look at that data.

If they're as clueless challenged when it comes to offline marketing as they appear to be when it comes to online marketing, I can hardly blame them.

*Image may not appear quickly, or at all. There appears to be something up with the network.

Posted by Bigwig at January 20, 2005 10:51 AM | TrackBack
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Yeeeeaaaah. Well. You know...

We're considering a registration model too. It's really a circulation driven thing. They'd be a lot happier with us if we implemented a registration model. I don't know that it will help circulation efforts, but it will probably hurt online to a degree. Registration=fewer page views=fewer ad impressions to sell.

Our solution thus-far is to simply keep some content that is in the newspaper off the website.

Posted by: Kehaar at January 20, 2005 03:27 PM

I blogged about this when *I* had a blog!

A funny follow-up: The other day I received in the postal mail some marketing material targetted to Architects. WTF? Then I remembered, I had registered at some newsites as a male, architect, living in SF, making $250k/year. (Of course, I am pretty much the *exact opposite* of that profile.)

That was before I gave up registering at all. Now, if I click a link that requires registration, I kill the window. (Bugmenot usually doesn't work -- guess the websites are monitoring that and blocking the login.)

Posted by: cj at January 21, 2005 07:43 PM
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