Poll: ads versus subscription models for wine web sites


This week the New York Times ended their experiment with a pay subscription barrier on selected content (“Times Select”)–yay, free content for all! Subscriptions had made the company $10 million a year but the thinking is that by making the “premium” content free to readers, the uptick in page views and associated advertising revenues will offset the loss of subscriptions. Even the Wall Street Journal, seen as the most successful online newspaper with $65 million in subscription revenue, is talking about giving out the content for free under the forthcoming Murdoch regime.

Some wine sites put their content behind subscription barriers, notably eRobertParker.com, WineSpectator.com, and JancisRobinson.com. The Wine Spectator also hits readers with ads after they have already paid, as did Times Select for that matter.

Are there enough ads out there to support wine sites? Should subscription-based wine sites go free? Have your say in the poll and the comments below.

poll now closed


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6 Responses to “Poll: ads versus subscription models for wine web sites”

  1. It’s fuzzy, but the major components of the formula that I can see are potential size of audience, and passion of core audience. For the ad model to work, you need a massive audience.

    For NYT, the potential audience size is absolutely huge, as their content covers topics of interest to nearly everyone.

    A niche site like Parker’s has a much smaller potential audience size given its focus. That said, the people who want the content are probably more passionate about it, so the subscription model probably is a better fit there (as far as Parker making money from his content is concerned, that is).

  2. I subscribe every year for Ws and I found its database useful and valuable and all the “premium” content that they offer is really above the average what we find elsewhere for free.
    But in a US market where internet ads work and give result, I think that the future for WS too is to go totally free and make advertisers pay more for their ads.
    In Italy we have no food or drink web site with subscriptions but we don’t have your numbers!

  3. Personally for an ad model to work you don’t need massive readership, just VERY TARGETED. I’d much rather spend money to put an ad on a site whose small audience is passionate about my product, rather than on a site, where only 5% are focused on my product.

    Parker refuses ads, so he has to use subscriptions. Wine Spectator is greedy! They could gain a ton from opening up and trumping Parker, and others by allowing all their TN’s to be indexed and searchable through google. They would be the #1 TN site by “professionals” if you’re into that! ….

  4. Mine is a subcription based, interactive, post and comment site designed for people who love wine, but want to learn more about it AND want to be entertained as well. What makes my site different from the others is you can contact me by phone(daily)if you wish about wines, food, pairings, etc. for $10/month. I am controversial, have no ads, abhor rating systems,there’s absolutely no bs, and I try to put a unique spin on the whole package.

    For me, if I want to sell something else, I can do it because I’ve tried the product and endorse it…in that order. My goal is to develop a trusting base of subscribers and not clutter up my site with ads. Parker is right!

  5. […] Poll: ads versus subscription models for wine web sites Cosa è meglio per i contenuti di un sito di vino? Dare i contenuti gratis e basare le entrate sulla pubblicità oppure dare i contenuti in abbonamento? (tags: wine, sondaggio) […]

  6. […] just aren’t a lot of eyeballs that are seriously interested in $1,000 bottles of Burgundy. A previous poll here showed that blog readers prefer free content. So my friend might be better off contributing to […]


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