The latest trend being talked about in the US that may eventually come to the UK is pay passes for accessing a wide variety of sites and content. The move to try to get people to start paying for what they use online would follow that of the adult industry, which has created a number of networks where users pay one price and get access to a number of sites sharing the same pay scheme. You could pay a monthly fee of, say, £10 and get access to more than 50 sites, and as the network grows so your monthly fee covers those sites as well and gives you access to parts of a site non-pay pass members can’t access, such as archives. One idea which could work is if a number of sites, both big and small, got together, chose a payment programme and then, while the bigger sites would get more of the revenue based on their popularity, smaller sites would also share in the revenue as they would also be part of the network promoting each other. Websites cannot carry on forever giving away content for free, but at the same time, they equally can’t stop giving away something in order to get people to come back and pay for value-added information. A pay pass that allows access to your favourite site as well as access to others is one way forward to cover some of the costs of publishers venturing online.
Local community website network MyVillage (www.myvillage.com) has started to roll out its online offering across the UK. Initially focused on the Notting Hill Gate area of London, it now features sites covering other parts of the capital with plans to go national. As well as sites for real areas, it has also created online offerings for fictional TV places such as MyWalford for EastEnders and MyWeatherfield for Coronation Street.
The online version of The Sun (www.thesun.co.uk) says it recorded 11.5 million page impressions in June, with 662,700 unique users. Like other newspapers keen to increase their audience and the time people spend on their sites, it has been cross-promoting it in the paper as well as running enhanced news and features. "We’ve doubled our traffic by increasing the interactivity of the site with web chats, online promotions and exclusive video streaming," said editor Pete Picton.
GoTo UK, the paid-for search engine, continues its expansion by featuring on AltaVista (www.altavista.co.uk). Companies pay GoTo a fee for their listing which appears across its network of sites which take the service. The bigger the fee the higher the listing which will appear on other search sites under a ‘featured’ slot.