54% of online users have never registered

By Steve Outing

One of my biggest pet peeves (well, within the topic of media) is media websites that demand user registration in order to view content beyond their homepages. I think that’s a nutty strategy in cases where the content is free to view, and I much prefer voluntary user registration and providing incentives for people to register.

I’ve never found much data to support my opinion, but a little bit came in today from Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. During some research in December, Pew researchers asked a question about user registration for news content. It was part of a bigger survey on Internet news that will be released next Wednesday (March 22).

Question asked: “Have you ever REGISTERED at a website — by giving your name or other information or creating a username — in order to get access to news or information on that site, or have you never done this?” Results (asked of 1,931 Internet users):

  1. 46% – Yes
  2. 54% – No

Wow. I hope there’s a bit more in the study that’ll come out next week. But that alone indicates to me that websites that offer free content and require users to register to see it are missing out on significant site traffic. (I’ve had numerous arguments over the years with site managers who insist that mandatory registration is not hurting them. I still think I’m right. Perhaps Pew will shed a bit more light on the situation, though it sounds like this was the only registration question that was asked.)

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!