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Locking in articles about social networks is crazy

The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet has been very successful in attracting visitors to its website. Aftonbladet.se is Sweden’s second largest website, second only to MSN.se. It was one of the first papers (although not the first) to take blogging seriously, both with their own blog service and the acquisition of the blog portal Bloggportalen.se. But when other major media sites like the New York Times are unlocking content that was previously subscription only, Aftonbladet.se has chosen the opposite direction.

“What changed, The Times said, was that many more readers started coming to the site from search engines and links on other sites instead of coming directly to NYTimes.com. These indirect readers, unable to get access to articles behind the pay wall and less likely to pay subscription fees than the more loyal direct users, were seen as opportunities for more page views and increased advertising revenue.

“What wasn’t anticipated was the explosion in how much of our traffic would be generated by Google, by Yahoo and some others,” Ms. Schiller said.”

Today, Anders Westgårdh writes a column on Aftonbladet.se in which he states that Facebook is a fad that will soon disappear. Quite obviously, this is the kind of article that readers would blog about, comment, post to social networks etc etc which will attract new readers. But the article is behind a pay wall so none of that will happen.

Sure, its just one article, but to me it indicates that Aftonbladet is determined not to follow the path of the New York Times and the others. Personally I am not convinced that it is the correct thing to do, but then again I don’t have access to Aftonbladet’s site statistics.

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