What are we, less than two week’s into Jessica Lessin’s launch of The Information? As a subscriber I’ve read every article and enjoyed the majority. I applaud Jessica for staking out a high pricepoint – it holds her accountable to deliver the value she seeks to command and changes the economics of her true north (plus always easier to discount than raise prices). Her game is now about getting 10,000 subscribers to pay $400, not 40 million uniques to click on slideshows. Comes from someone with a WSJ mentality and a confidence that influence and personal brand aren’t tied to comscore. The Information is meant to be a business expense, with an audience who is less price sensitive because they’re (a) rich or (b) making the company pay.
What’s interesting about the initial content is that while it’s good, it’s not necessarily unique. Sure they’ve gotten a bunch of scoops but that’s not what I’m referring to by “unique.” Rather they’re not doing journalism that’s forbidden on other sites. Their articles feel like the best of what can also be found on NYTimes, Fortune, All Things D, etc when someone is writing original content and not chasing a press release or app update.
For me the value in The Information is not solely in what they’re providing but what they’re leaving out. The ~two articles a day are both interesting. Because they’re not playing a page views game, they don’t need to overload me with 25+ posts every 24 hrs. The site is spartan because they don’t need to worry about IAB units. A small number of writers building their beats give me the chance to see each journalist’s style distinctly, not settle into some random byline slot machine of varying quality.
Some folks are raising an eyebrow on the pricetag. “What are you getting that’s worth it?” Strangely my reply is as much about the 80% I’m not getting as the 20% they’re delivering. And I think that’s what Jessica is going for.
Two other The Information randoms:
1. The price anchoring is going to help other sites who want to charge, just charge less, by legitimizing the general notion of paying for content. Some number of people might be increasingly amendable for paying $50/yr (or whatever) for a specialty newsletter, etc. This is a good thing. We need to get in the habit of paying directly for content.
2. There are a ton of people I know who share passwords within their firm. My advice to Jessica:
Just randomly send emails to your subscribers at any VC firm saying, “hey I’ve noticed multiple people have logged into your account at once. If you happen to be sharing your password, would you mind supporting us by asking your colleagues to buy their own subscription at <link>. If this is you logged into multiple browsers, no worries. Thanks!”
I think she’d get a 50% conversion off just that note :)