Thursday, March 17, 2011

Link the NYTimes

The New York Times is exploring a new business model for online traffic today. Canadian readers of start facing a 'metering' scheme today which erects a pay wall after a user makes more than 20 page views in a month on the Times website. Links that lead to NYTimes content will not count towards the metered pageviews. American and global visitors will wait until the 28th of March before facing the same metered traffic and paywall scheme.

Clever devotees of the Times would do well to start linking to articles on the Times site and seeking out other bloggers who do the same to avoid the metering. One pageview to the NYtims front page would yield dozens of links to articles. A blogger can provide links to readers, in essence creating free portals to the Times website. Twitter, tumblr, and blogs will provide links to free articles, making it easier for friends and connected media to share the information that a person wants friends to see. A failure to provide links to friends freezes the connected people out from content for which they might have to pay $15-$35 per month.

It sounds like a clever way to cheat the system. Bloggers out of their own self-interest encourage other bloggers to visit the Times site and post updated links to new content, creating a self-perpetuating snowball of free content that could prevent the need to rack up pageviews on the Times meter. It sounds like a scheme that disadvantages the Times. But it is not; the New York Times gets enormous value from links bouncing around the web pointing the way to their content. The links make it easier for search engines to find Times content, bringing their news, analysis, and editorials to new readers who may have shunned the content (links to NYTimes articles from search engines are also not counted on the meter). The Times is hoping that bloggers act in self interest and save themselves $35/mo by adding hundreds of dollars in value to the Times website via SEO. The more links point to the Times domain, the higher it ranks on relevant searches. The more links the Times receives, the more valuable the is.

Let self-interest and prosocial behavior unite and always link to a few Times stories whenever you read one. If you notice your friends doing the same, you've helped yourself, your community, and the Times.

1 comment:

  1. The links are not particularly valuable to the times....that's why they are switching to a paid system! If links and searches led to enough ad revenue, they would already be rolling in it, and it would stay free.