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Tuesday, 22 December 2009


Mark Ludmon

Harding's comments (and yours) about publishers' focus on customer acquisition at the expense of loyal customers are spot on - it's so true that newspaper publishers "give the paper away to people who could not care less and... pay little or no attention to people who love it and read it every day". Of course, there is no reason why a publisher can't do both, paying attention to to their readers and ensuring that, through use of research and data, they are giving the paper away to people who might actually care.

But you don't really tackle the fundamental question of how many of The Times' "customers" will remain loyal if they are faced with a charge when they can get similar content for free from the websites of the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Independent, the Mail, etc. Do any of the newspaper "brands" attract the degree of loyalty to retain the majority of their customers if their competitors are giving it away? This topic is crucial to the future of the media: without a sea-change in consumer perceptions that content via the internet should be free, the professional news media (printed and online) are financially unsustainable and simply have no future.

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