Registering online users is becoming the norm

Registering online users is becoming the norm.
For those considering taking the registration leap, some excellent anecdotal information is available in today’s Wired. Joanna Glasner writes that a few years ago, only a handful of newspaper Websites required user registration, but now it’s commonplace:

When Kelly Dyer first considered requiring readers of the Oklahoma news site NewsOK.com to fill out a form in exchange for access to articles, she had plenty of reservations. Chief among them: Users might object to submitting personal data, and traffic to the site would decline.

But, throwing caution to the wind, NewsOK went ahead with the registration plan last March, near the peak of the high-traffic college basketball season.

“We just kind of closed our eyes and jumped off a cliff, because we realized it was something we wanted to do,” said Dyer, NewsOK’s general manager. She said the decision stemmed in part from pressure from advertisers who wanted to know more about the site’s readers before paying for online campaigns.

Nearly a year into the experiment, Dyer has few regrets. Registered users currently top 277,000, exceeding the weekday circulation of the site’s parent newspaper, The Oklahoman. Only about one in 200 readers complained about registration.

This article references email marketing as a justification for registering users, something I view as ultimately self-destructive. I continue to advise TV stations to register their users, because successful Web advertising isn’t built on reach/frequency models. It’s a hard thing for stations to grasp, because broadcasting is ALL about those metrics. Contextual advertising — targeting specific users for advertisers — occurs without interfering with privacy and common sense, and stations must get into it before they can even begin to realize their true online revenue potential.

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