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Ever since Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp purchased Dow Jones, speculations ran rampant that Wall Street Journal online would become free. Alas, Murdock came out and dispelled that rumor a few months back. WSJ will remain behind the pay wall — you want access? Pay up!

There are actually good reasons for not making the site freely accessible. The most obvious reason is the diversified revenue stream. Subscription is easy money since most people, once they signed up, don’t bothered to cancel their subscription. But the more important reason, in my opinion, is that the pay wall ensures users on the WSJ online site are qualified audience. With this high quality audience (mostly bankers, business men and women, high net worth individuals, etc), they can charge advertisers a high premium (CPM in online marketing speak) for the privilege to speak to them. That is big money!

Today, I read an article that stated WSJ actually can be had for free, if only you know how. The article claimed that none of it is illegal, which is a good thing. Briefly, the article said that many of what’s behind the pay wall can actually be accessed without subscription if you click to them from news search engines and link aggregators such as Google News and Digg. Whatever else you cannot read through this method you can try to access by using a Firefox plug-in that spoofs the referral traffic. Both methods take very little effort to implement.

The question that immediately came to mind is this: If the intention is to keep the WSJ content behind the pay wall, why make it so easy to break through it? I think I know the answer. The subscription wall is just that — a barrier. With so much easily accessible free content, if you require just a bit more work to get to your content, most people would not bother to try to overcome that barrier. Usually that is a bad thing because people would just go to your competitors’ sites. In WSJ’s case, it’s a good one because the barrier ensures that only those who truly want to access the content will get to them. WSJ keep their qualified audience and thus their high CPM (which is their bread and butter anyway).

Now that’s one company who knows its audience and how to monetize the audience while expanding its reach. Brilliant!

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Although I am a marketer now, I was not trained in marketing. In fact, I’ve only taken one marketing class in my entire life (although I am an avid reader of many marketing journals and books). Despite my lack of training, I like to think I am a fairly good marketer. Others are welcome to disagree, but I feel my success has lots to do with the fact that I was not indoctrinated with the traditional teaching of what marketing is and how marketing is defined. Yes, there are the four P’s and five C’s, but marketing is first and forecast about people!

What do I mean by that? First, it matters not whether you are in a B-to-C business or a B-to-B business. The decisions to purchase your products and/or services are always made by people. There may be processes in place to get purchase approvals, but the decision to spend the money is always made by people. Second, technology and business processes don’t need what you sell, people do! Whether what you sell fulfills a particular kind of needs or wants, these needs and wants stem from and satisfy the desire of human beings, not machines or business processes. So if both the decision to acquire and the void the purchase would fulfill are by the people and for the people, then it follows that marketing must about the people.

Unfortunately, not everybody thinks so. Some people like to think that marketing is all about the creative ad copies while others think it’s how you communicate your message to others (thus fueling the wild fascination marketers have with the entire social network and social media phenomena). In fact, those are actually only components of marketing. The way I see it, the marketing cycle starts with the question “what do people want/need?” and ends with “how can people want more of it?” In other words, marketing starts and ends with your customers. Satisfy their wants/needs, and you will be well on your way to successful marketing.

What do you think? Please leave your comments below.

I was listening to online radio the other day when one of my new favorite songs came on. At that time, I was chatting with a friend online and casually mentioned that I was listening to my favorite song. She wanted to know the song, so I gave her the song title and artist name. A few minutes later, she IMed me back and said she’s never heard of the song before.

Curious how she was able to locate and sample the song so quickly, I asked her where she was accessing the song.

“YouTube, of course!”

Of course! YouTube has become my de facto library for all non-text media. It’s been a great reference source, as the matter of fact, whether I am searching for video or audio files.

Putting on my marketing hat, I’d have to say all the proposed strategies for monetizing YouTube that I’ve encountered so far are extremely backwards. People are still treating YouTube as the “online TV” when it’s so much more than that. It’s time to think outside of the box when one brainstorms about possible ways to make money off YouTube (or any other video sites, for that matter). Here are some of my thoughts:

  • As a laboratory – Most companies hire research firms to test their ad copies before they are released to the public. YouTube could easily make money by becoming one of those firms specializing in online video advertisement. Set up cost is minimal while the upside is almost limitless.
  • As a dedicated ad channel – Although most people view advertisement as necessary evil to get free content, few ads manage to get our attention. But sometimes an ad comes along and generates a huge buzz, and everybody wants to see the ad.  The Superbowl ads come to mind, but there are many more, especially the ones from overseas.  YouTube could set up a dedicated ad channel and charge advertisers to put their ads in the channel.

Any other thoughts?  Feel free to add your own in the comment box below.