I subscribe to the New York Times. Why am I willing to pay money for content that’s available for free on their site? (Until the paywalls go up.) Because their Times Reader makes it convenient for me to find all articles and read anything of interest very quickly. And they prepare the content for Sunday Times print edition so well, that I’m willing to spend around $20 monthly for that convenience. Why do I use iTunes even though the Amazon download is $3 cheaper? Because iTunes is so much better for my needs and gadgets.
Publishers are fighting the wrong fight. They are trying to protect their content because they see themselves as content providers. People are not willing to pay for content anymore. But they are more than willing to pay a pretty dime for a convenient service.
If publishers regarded themselves as service providers, would we have to deal with these awful slideshows and articles cut up into gazillion pieces to boost page views/impressions? Of course not. Would we have to wade through obnoxious display ads, advertorials and pop-ups? Absolutely not.
Publishers must provide people with new, unique and innovative services they’re willing to pay for, revolving around content people love. Protecting your content is a losing battle. Developing services surrounding content is the game-changer.