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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Aftonbladet shows blog links

Aftonbladet today started to link to blog posts that link to online articles (example here). But unlike all the other Swedish dailies which show blog links via the Twingly service, Aftonbladet chose to use its own blog portal Bloggportalen.se. On the site it says that the five most relevant comments are shown and to see all comments you need to go to Bloggportalen.se. It would be interesting to find out what factors that decide this relevance. [UPDATE: I didn’t read properly. Lotta Holmström writes that it is decided after how many incoming links a blog has.]

And since Aftonbladet.se is Sweden’s second largest website (MSN.se is no 1 according to KIA index) with close to 4 million visitors (unique web browsers) per week, prepare to see a major increase in blog links to Aftonbladet the coming weeks.

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Aftonbladet locks in top content

Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet will start to charge for more of its online content. Martin Jönsson points out that even the top news story on Aftonbladet.se today is locked for non-subscribers. This is especially noteworthy since the same story is also covered in Metro this morning – for free.

Footnote: The article is now available at Aftonbladet.se here.

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So we’re muppets now?

A muppet, that’s what a PR professional is to Aftonbladet’s Head of Insults, sorry, Head of Information, Olof Brundin. There is currently a kerfuffle about an interview with Bill Gates done by Norwegian journalist Bjørn Benkow on a plane between London and Munich. The following article was published in both Mann in Norway and in Aftonbladet in Sweden. Only problem is that the interview apparently is faked. After Microsoft’s Corporate Communications Manager Eirik Lae Solberg made sure the interview never happened he contacted Mann, who then apologized. But Aftonbladet, the paper that thinks “bloggers have completely different demands for truth than we do”, considers the article to be true because Benkow insists the interview is bona fide (no, really?).

– [Benkow] confirms that it all went down as he wrote in the article. If some press muppet (pressmupp) in Oslo says anything else then it is his word against the other, and I can only relate to what the reporter have told me as long as Bill Gates himself doesn’t call and says otherwise, Brundin said.

Yeah, that’s going to happen. “Well, hello mister Brundin, this is William H. Gates calling. I just sneaked out of a board meeting to have a chat with you.”

Anyway, Brundin continues to say that “if anything turns out to be wrong, we will apologize immedeately”. Except, it seems that Aftonbladet are the judges as to what is wrong and not. Later today Dagens Nyheter publishes a new article where the Swedish PR contact Johan Furestad says:

– We have called Bill Gates’ office and can conclude that [the interview] never happened. Turns out that Gates didn’t even fly a scheduled flight between these cities at that time.

Was that enough for Aftonbladet to apologize? Of course not. So, who’s the press muppet now?

UPDATE: It’s not easy being green, it’s not easy being at Aftonbladet. The muppet won, Aftonbladet apologized for the faked Gates interview.

Aftonbladet buys Stockholm portal

Aftonbladet recently launched a special Stockholm section and today the tabloid revealed it has acquired the local portal Allt Om Stockholm (“Everything about Stockholm”) with 180,000 unique visitors per month. The two websites will co-operate in order to strengthen their offers both to readers and advertisers.

I can’t compare this investment with Sydsvenskan’s purchase of Manolo.se, but this seems to be a logical step in the fight for the local advertising market in Stockholm.

Aftonbladet – where are your RSS feeds?

Swedish media have had RSS feeds for quite some time now and the adoption rate seems to be stable. The number of subscribers in Bloglines is growing at a steady rate and the most popular feeds now have more subscribers than the Swedish A-list bloggers do. RSS is apparently a form of consuming news from big media that appeals to a growing part of the population, although the numbers are still very small in comparison to newspapers’ normal circulation.

What amazes me is that Aftonbladet still doesn’t come with an RSS feed (or does it?) apart from a hacked feed created via MyRSS: http://myrss.com/f/a/f/aftonbladetSe32e8bf1.rss91. This little hack has 29 subscribers at Bloglines. Imagine how many subscribers an official feed would have, considering that Aftonbladet.se is the leading news web page in Sweden. Of course, one could argue that there is no economy in RSS (yet) or that the numbers are still insignificant. Sure, but why be the last to jump on the waggon? RSS will grow, I am sure of that.

It’s been a while since I checked last time, but Dagens Nyheter is still the most popular feed, in fact DN has 3 of the top 10 feeds which are (subscribers in Bloglines):

1. Dagens Nyheter (214)
2. Dagens Nyheter Senaste Nytt (198)
3. Ny Teknik (185)
4. Computer Sweden (161)
5. Internetworld (160)
6. SR Ekot (151)
7. IDG.se (124)
8. Expressen Nyheter (101)
9. Dagens Nyheter Ekonomi (88)
10. Expressen (66)

Footnote 1: I’m not counting the feeds from media blogs, only “regular news” feeds. I’m aware that Aftonbladet’s blogs have RSS feeds, but this is a non-blog post.

Footnote 2: I have seen estimates that Bloglines have somewhere between 20-35 per cent of the market. If that is true, multiply the numbers above accordingly and you get an estimate of the total number of subscribers.