Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Land of 14,000 Suckers?

John e-mails to question the structural integrity and effectiveness of the Star Tribune's "paywall":

For what it's worth, I read your post about the Star Tribune being pleased about the 14,000 online subscribers they've picked up as a result of the new paywall and I had to laugh. Their pay wall is about as secure as an investment in MF Global (or the Star Tribune). Their "pay wall" is just a tracking cookie. After 20 reads it automatically redirects you to the prompt to pay up. All anyone has to do (and I'm barely tech savvy, so I doubt I'm the only one to figure this out) is delete the cookies for startribune.com and refresh the page. Your counter will be reset to 0 for the month. If you're running a cookie detector plug-in for firefox or chrome you can just tell it to automatically block that cookie and you can browse at will.

I'm not an advocate of online piracy or anything, just pointing out that Star Tribune's page view numbers aren't off much probably in large part because people are ignoring their amateurish attempt at a pay wall.

We too would never advocate such efforts to flout the proper protocols for accessing the Strib online. Frankly, I'm surprised that people would find more than twenty articles a month in the paper worth reading in the first place.

When It Rains It Pours Update:

I received a Groupon offer today for 68% off a six-month Star Tribune subscription. Based on such aggressive discounting, I'd say it's safe to assume that their slow subscriber bleed hasn't been staunched.