Is better tracking technology the answer to newspapers’ woes? That seems to be Alan Mutter’s premise with his recently announced ViewPass. Mutter, who writes Reflections of a Newsosaur, is not proposing a simple widget here, but what appears to be a sophisticated business coop.
The idea is to create a single, branded logon for multiple news products. After registering, readers would go about their normal surfing to favorite free news sites. Readers also can buy individual articles, subscriptions or bundles of content from sources that do charge.
The key to ViewPass seems to be a central database for tracking reader behavior to better target ads. That in turn would lead to bigger profits from advertisers happy with better results. By the way, targeted ads is nothing new; Mutter is just proposing a methodology for unifying the thousands of solutions already out there.
Under Mutter’s vision, ViewPass would be owned by multiple news organizations – broadcast, online and print – in a coop form. If ViewPass gets large enough, the news industry would finally have serious negotiating clout with advertisers, search engines and other service providers.
If you’re eyes are glazing over, I understand; this is biz side stuff instead of writing, reporting and broadcasting. But it’s important to remember: the problem with journalism is not on the editorial side, but the financial side.