? Pay Walls:
“The fundamental problem facing the news industry is simple: As the shift from print to the web accelerates, their revenues are no longer covering the cost of their operations. It’s not that they aren’t making money online, it’s that they aren’t making enough to cover their operations.
The potential solutions are, at a fundamental level, obvious: (a) generate more revenue from the web; (b) cut operating costs; or (c) both. Small measures will not do the job. And things are getting worse as more readers shift from print to the web.”
As usual, Gruber is dead-on right . At Want Ad, we took down the online pay wall too late. Once we did, web traffic took off and we needed to have a way to generate additional revenue from that traffic. We didn’t do that quick enough either. The David Simon essay he links to has one piece right – act quickly. But putting up an obstacle to getting to your product? Wrong action.
Figure out how to make ends meet with the traffic you get. Figure out how to increase your traffic. Figure out how to get more money for the traffic you get. Whatever you do, don’t make it more difficult for people to get to your content.
 Well, except for being a New York fan.
Update: More discussion of the same subject at MetaFilter, which is interesting as they are actually a closer model to what I believe the papers need – pay-to-contribute, small staff, open access to content. They don’t have ads for people who paid for an account.
So, of course, I’ve been keeping up (or trying to keep up) with what’s been going on with the remnants of The WANT ADvertiser.
First thing I found was a site claiming to be the new incarnation of The WANT ADvertiser but under a new name and look. It honestly looks like someone trying to take advantage of the situation by slapping up a craptastic quickie site. (And since I don’t think they actually bought the name from The WANT ADvertiser’s owners, I won’t link to them.) Suffice it to say, not using generic stock photos and… oh, I don’t know, maybe investing in a SPELL CHECKER? I know I’m not much of a typist but then again, I’m not trying to sell you something.
Much more interesting was what appeared in my search results today – thebigads.com, which came via an article in the T&G. The article indicates that there are 5 former Want Ad folks there – and in looking at the site, I’m pretty sure they do. There’s definitely a sameness to the look and feel. I wish them the best of luck.
Last week, my most recent former employer (The WANT ADvertiser) closed their doors. It was pretty obvious it was coming, which is why they became my former employer a month ago. And every time it happens, I think about the fact that, for new employers, checking my references is an exercise in frustration. I mean, let’s look at the list:
Bradlees – closed
Some cleaning company in New Milford – gone
Cablevision of New Milford – bought up in a series of mergers, I think it’s now part of Charter
Roy Rogers – my 3-day excursion into fast food. There’s still a few technically, but for all intents and purposes, they’re gone
Office Max – Okay, they’re still around.
Staples – The other survivor
Service Merchandise – was well into the descent when I got there. (Hint: if you fire someone for theft, don’t rehire them at Christmas. Just saying.)
Gateway Country Stores – I was part of their first layoff. Then they closed the stores and got bought up by Acer.
And now The WANT AD. That was the closest – it was barely a month from when I left until they packed it up. I won’t go into my thoughts on what happened but suffice it to say, it could have been avoided.
A few links to other people’s thoughts on their closing: