Since early July, The New York Times has increased its testing of online registration and log-on strategies, as part of its efforts to further optimize its pay model.
“When a user is registered and logged-in, we can communicate with them and understand their preferences and patterns of consumption more effectively than if they were anonymous,” a spokesperson told Publishers Daily.
The New York Times' metered paywall allows visitors to access five articles for free a month. The publisher hit 3.7 million digital subscribers in June.
“Keep reading The Times by creating a free account or logging in,” a pop-up window urges site visitors who aren’t signed in.
The Washington Post and TheBoston Globe also have registration walls. Since October, Bloomberg Media has asked visitors to register if they have visited the site more than eight times in a month.
This push from publishers asking site visitors to register comes as a new patch for the Google Chrome web browser was released, fixing a bug that allowed sites to detect and block users in “Incognito Mode,” a setting users often turn on when they don't want their browsing history detected.
Called Chrome 76, the patch means publishers with metered paywalls, like The New York Times, will no longer be able to block users in Incognito Mode from accessing online content for free. The patch protects users’ browsing privacy.
As an alternative, Google suggests publishers harden their paywalls or reduce the number of free articles a user can read before logging in, requiring free registration for users to view any content on a publisher's site.