The Australian says paywall not hacked

By By Erin Smith | 27 October 2011

The Australian has refuted claims that social media experts have discovered how to sidestep its new paywall, saying free referrals from search engines is a deliberate decision. 

The Australian director of corporate communications Stephen Browning spoke to AdNews, in response to a story published on Crikey yesterday, that claimed experts could hack into the paywall. Browning said News Limited looked carefully into how the subscription model will sit in search engines and social media.

“We have deliberately and consciously allowed readers to access premium content through search engines and social media," he said.

"They are an important source of readers for us. If people choose to browse the website story by story going back and forth through search engines, we're delighted they value our content enough to waste so much time doing this. Our belief is that if someone is going to go to those lengths they were almost certainly never going to be a subscriber any way.

“The experience of The Wall Street Journal, which has an identical set up, is that the number of people who do this is tiny. However, we are tracking this traffic on an hourly basis and should it become an issue for us, we can of course change the settings at any time.”

AdNews recently reported on the launch of the paywall and also its functionality in an exclusive interview with News Limited group marketing director Ed Smith.

Non subscribers to the paywall will get five free referrals to premium content form Google per day and one free referral to premium content from Facebook per day.

Browning said: “We want people using search engines to be able to find our content and sample it and we also want people to share our content on social media. We have very carefully and very deliberately set the number of referrals as they are.”

News Limited has launched a new website on the future of digital journalism and subscription models called The Future of Journalism.

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