You've successfully subscribed to Vikrant Duggal
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Vikrant Duggal
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Billing info update failed.

Notes: Is a Wirecutter Subscription A Smart and Necessary Play?

Vikrant Duggal
Vikrant Duggal
• 2 min read

Jacob Cohen Donnelly wrote an essay today titled "Is a Wirecutter Subscription A Smart and Necessary Play?"

  • Wirecutter’s purpose is to provide useful information to consumers so that they are inclined to click through to Amazon and purchase goods.
  • Wirecutter wouldn’t be the first to have a subscription built into its review website. People are willing to pay for access to the reviews, but can Wirecutter, which has notoriously been a free site, suddenly start charging?
  • Wirecutter is now part of so we will never understand is the audience breakdown between referral and direct. The breakdown could have been able to tell you a lot about an audience’s willingness to pay for content.
  • High referral/low direct traffic: These are people coming through the side door.
    Low referral/high direct traffic: These are people that are seeking Wirecutter out.
  • The Times might be preparing for when it makes less money on affiliate revenue, so it needs to find other ways to monetize. It doesn’t want to charge for inclusion so charging the user seems appropriate.
  • There has been a lot of recent press around Ken Doctor’s Lookout Local, a for-profit attempt at building a local media company in his home town of Santa Cruz, California.
  • “It is still very cheap to do a digital product, so at less than $2 million a year, we can map a full service news company that has two to three times the reporting strength in quantity of a daily newspaper,” said Doctor.
  • “The business community is part of the model along with readers and members for the long haul,” he said. Lookout Local is looking to also give Santa Cruz’s local businesses a new place to reach immediate potential new customers.
  • To gain more awareness and scale, Lookout Local will be testing a bundle with the Los Angeles Times that will offer a discounted membership to Lookout and a subscription to the Times.
  • Each of these points is so critical. First, $2 million a year is all that he really needs to have a newsroom that is stronger than what is already in Santa Cruz. Second, their understanding that advertising is a smart play is important.  Finally, the Local/National bundle in partnership with the Los Angeles Times is an interesting play.