There’s been a lot of criticism toward registration lately, so it’s worth remembering what can be accomplished. Like a lot of newspapers, the Financial Times is facing dwindling audience for its print product but not its online one. The paper said its newspaper circulation dropped five percent while its paying online subscribers increased 33 percent. Nevertheless, the online subscriber base is only 18 percent of the newspaper’s circulation.
Of course, all this is not to say registration/subscription is a cure all. For example, MSNBC, which has no plans to implement such a scheme, is still offering its readers a powerful personalization tool. For months Microsoft has been testing Newsbot — its Google-News-killer — over in in Britain, but now the service is available on its American flagship news site. Although I’ve written about this briefly before, it’s worth going over some key features:
- Newsbot aggregates headlines from more than 4,800 other sites;
- serves unique news based on the stories you’ve clicked to read;
- displays the stories you’ve read in the past;
- does it all with anonymous cookies.
The default story selection is still weak (there were duplicate AP stories when I checked), but will doubtlessly improve, because this kind of aggregation is here to stay. (Already, some traditional news are vendors worrying.)
As for the personalization itself, look for others to start picking it up over the next year — after all MSN is just following BBC Online’s earlier experiments.