PPA Conference: Tim Brooks on The Times 'paywall failure' and Mail's 'world success'

News International's experiment with a non-penetrable paywall around websites for The Times and Sunday Times has been a failure, while the rise of Mail Online has been the "world success story", according to former Guardian leader, Tim Brooks.

Speaking at the PPA's annual Publishing+ conference today, the former managing director of GNM and IPC was in no doubt about the publishing story of the last two years. He called the rise of the Daily Mail's website, now the biggest English-language newspaper site in the world, an "extraordinary story".  

Mail Online now commands more than 80 million unique browsers per month and continues to aggressively expand its international footprint by opening new offices in English-speaking markets.

Brooks called it "a demonstration of what happens when a switch is flicked at the top of an organisation".

The publishing specialist of more than 20 years credited the Daily Mail's chairman, Lord Rothermere, with driving the cultural and strategic shift.

"He just woke up and said 'actually, do you know what, we need to take this seriously', and since that the Mail Online has been the world success story in terms of online news," said Brooks.

Brooks believes the audience levels now being achieved by the English-language news sites "are absolutely phenomenal", with the notable exception of locked-down sites belonging to News International, referred to as "an experiment by News Corporation… that I think has been a failure".

He added: "I would expect them to move towards some kind of freemium model, where access is easier and you don’t just get that blank, you need to pay to see this the minute you hit The Times."

Watch the first part of this interview, which talks about emerging magazine trends, here.

Follow Arif Durrani on Twitter: @DurraniMix

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