Now the Financial Times is getting really bullish about its web access model. In another tweak, it’s now ensuring that no free articles are on offer to non-registered users.
In 2007, the site introduced this access model to give five free articles a month to casual readers, and 25 to free-registered users, as incentives to subscribe. But, watching its paying customers grow since then, it reduced the five free articles to one a month, and now to none.
The free articles for free-registered readers has also been reduced to 10 a month. But unregistered readers who come via Google, will still get five free articles, under its adoption of Google’s modified First-Click-Free scheme.
FT.com wants readers to register for free because it gives the paper valuable demographic data with which to target advertisers’ ads and special offers for its own subscription package. It now has 1.9 million users with free accounts, which has helped it grow to 121,000 paying subscribers.
While it’s closing stories off to directly-visiting users, with First-Click-Free it’s leaving the door ajar to search visitors, however.
Analysing reader data is key to site publisher Rob Grimshaw, who told me recently he wants to be as flexible as possible with pricing options for the subscription, which costs up to £364 a year. FT.com is set to trial day and week payments via PayPal..
“We’re very keen to offer the maximum range of payment platforms,” Grimshaw said. “At moment, it’s limited; you can only pay by credit card.
“We’ve moved with PayPal first because it’s a great transaction platform and a great user experience. It’s the one which has the most potential to open up new markets for us. But there’s no reason we wouldn’t move on to other options as well. We want to be in a situation where our users can pay with their credit card, via direct debit, through their mobile, with their Amazon account, PayPal, their Google account – there’s no down side to offering the maximum number of options.”
Micropayments, also on FT’s agenda, are “more complicated from an engineering perspective” but, asked if Google Checkout could work as a platform (since many readers of merely individual articles come via search), Grimshaw said: “We’d be delighted if Google would help us out with some of those things.”