Does free bring good value?

LESThe London Evening Standard is dropping its 50p cover price next week to become a freesheet.

After a high profile relaunch earlier this year which saw circulation initially dip 20% before recovering 12% this is a big gamble on the part of its Russian owners. There are a wealth of other daily publications in London (including LondonLite and Metro) and with more and perhaps better content available on mobile devices and the Internet, this was inevitable.

Maybe the movement to free was brought about by the influx of dating ads, suduko and a decline in credible journalism. Whatever the reason, one of the capital’s flagship brands has had to modernise with the times with no guarantee of success in the future.

Giving away a product for free carries incredible risks not least in how your product is perceived, the value it holds and in terms of The Standard, the inability to develop and engage with its customer base on a meaningful level. Commercially, there should always be a reason for giving something away – to reward, entice, convert, cross sell or up sell.

The Standard will be hoping an increase in readership will be an attractive draw to advertisers.


One response to “Does free bring good value?

  1. For me the value of the Evening Standard’s content is far above that of its competition – but that doesn’t necessarily count any more for this venerable institution or for many others like it. Of course in many cases we won’t realise until it’s too late. So where will local news come from?

    Recently I picked up on a model emerging in the US that shows how local journalism might work when newspapers have disappeared. Some hyperlocal bloggers – servicing audiences of around 50000 – are pulling in advertising revenues of $200K pa and with modest growth could start to employ staff.

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