R.R. Donnelley has acquired Journalism Online Inc., and its Press+ service, which enables publishers to offer a variety of paid and metered content plans as well as mobile/tablet access, enhanced site functionality, and out-of-market-access.
Press+ allows publishers to offer day or week passes, print/online bundles, monthly or annual subscriptions as well as credit for previous day passes as readers select longer-term subscriptions. The original concept of the service was to get about 10 percent of a content site’s users to pay.
Journalism Online co-founders Steve Brill and former Wall Street Journal Publisher Gordon Corvitz–members of the 2010 FOLIO: 40–will continue working with the company under R.R. Donnelley. News Corp., which purchased a stake in Journalism Online last year, sold its interest as part of the deal.
"Our publishing customers continue to develop multi-channel advertising and editorial strategies, and Press+ provides a valuable tool for monetizing content," said R.R. Donnelley president and CEO Thomas J. Quinlan III in a statement.
The deal comes one week after The New York Times embarked on what may be the biggest bet on online paid content yet. According to Crovitz, the Times new paywall could generate more than $150 million in new revenue (compared to the $150 million in digital advertising the site already generates).
"Done right, a ‘freemium’ approach such as a meter is a big win for news publishers," he said. "The publishers using Press+ for metered access to web sites and other digital products are keeping all their online ad revenue and their visitors month to month, as they add the new revenue stream from online subscriptions. We estimate the N.Y. Times should be able to generate $100 million in new revenues with this approach."
Last year, Journalism Online said it had "more than 1,300" affiliates signed up. The company previously offered data from about two dozen small and medium-sized newspapers that suggested implementing a paywall did not significantly hurt overall traffic numbers, with monthly uniques to the participating sites falling between zero to 7 percent, while page views dropped between zero to 20 percent, with no decline in advertising revenue.
The Jordan, Edmiston Group handled the deal.