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Future Publishing talks online content charges

Edge Online publisher continues experiments with paywalls and other payment schemes

Videogame and speciality magazine publisher Future Publishing has discussed its ongoing experiments with paid-for online content; including paywalls, exclusive content for magazine buyers and free content supported by paid-for archives.

"We're experimenting in small places right across the portfolio, because we don't have the answer yet," said CEO Steve Spring in an interview with website Brand Republic. "Our strategy online is do and learn. We're learning as we go along."

While dismissing traditional banner advertising and Rupert Murdoch's much-publicised plans to charge for News Corporation content, Spring insisted that Future was much better placed than other companies to charge for its online products.

"The basic laws of marketing say that if I can get something that's substitutable cheaper, more easily, whatever, then I will do," said Spring. "So if you're asking me for a comment about Murdoch and his paid-for news, I think the chances are slim or none because it's so ubiquitous, it's so generic."

"When you come to our content and the reason that we can charge an average of five pounds for a magazine is that we do very nice, very must-have, very special content, and if anybody is going to pay for anything they are more likely to pay for that. That's why we use the word prosumer, it's much closer to business-to-business," she added.

Earlier in the week Future reported that full year profits had fallen by 61 per cent, attributed to poor performance in the US. Spring remains confident about the company's long term future, but was less optimistic about the general outlook for 2010.

"I think you would be a bloody brave man to think that next year was not going to be challenging across every sector including advertising," she said.