Scripps’ Sites Test Content-Access Registration Protocol

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By: E&P Staff

Newspaper publisher E. W. Scripps announced today that it recently completed a month-long test of modifications to its Web sites’ content-access registration system. The testing addressed company concerns that the pay-for wall restricted site traffic growth too much, especially traffic coming from on their site search engines. The company released the findings of its tests to explain how the sites will be evolving registration methods as a result.

When the newspaper company first implemented registration, the “wall” where users had to register to get to content was set between index pages and almost all articles on its sites. The company uses a “long form” requiring users to fill out contact information and asking them to give information about their demographic and interests.

For the test, the company “softened” the pay-per wall, allowing users who had not registered to view up to a set number of articles in a 30-day period. After reaching the threashold, the user would then be intercepted by the registration form.

As a result of the test, Scripps determined that the “softening” of the content wall did not increase traffic noticably, and did not yield a pattern as to how many unique visitors came to the sites. The company also determined that, despite the “softening”, the percentage of users who abandon the site at the wall intercept remained constant.

Scripps also found that when the wall was “softened” — at any threshold number of visits — fewer users (half or less) checked the boxes to “opt in” to an e-mail marketing program featuring local advertisers’ special offers.

Local managers of the company’s 13 sites that participated in the test are deciding this week where to set their soft-wall thresholds permanently. Corporate heads advised the managers thresholds between three and five “free” article views per user per 30 days.

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