Washingtonpost.com Asks More of Visitors

The Washington Post will require visitors to its Web site to register in an effort to better target advertising to the at-work audience.

“The data we collect will create more powerful advertising opportunities and provide value for our users,” said Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI) CEO and publisher Caroline Little.

Users will be asked about the type of business they work for and type of work they do as part of the registration process. Specifically, the site will ask for job title, primary responsibility, industry and company size. The company previously required site visitors to provide date of birth, gender, and Zip code. That policy was instituted in August of 2002.

Like many other online newspaper sites, washingtonpost.com published for years without requiring any user information. The New York Times required site registration from its inception. Its relative success led many others to follow suit. The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Dallas Morning News now all require registration. The trend is largely driven by online advertisers’ increasing sophistication about targeting.

“Without question, registration has been an important contributor to the success of online advertising at washingtonpost.com,” said Little.

The company says its revenues from local and national online advertising grew 59 percent in 2003.

Users are now also asked for their e-mail addresses, which serves as a user name for log-in. They must establish a password under the new registration requirements. Previously, information was stored in a “cookie,” with no formal log-in required. Currently registered users still have the option of remaining logged-in.

The company also introduced a customizable e-mail newsletter that allows users to select from a menu of headlines and receive only the information they’re interested in. Washingtonpost.com already offers 11 newsletters on a variety of topics. The company is tying newsletter sign-up with the new site registration process in an effort to increase subscriptions.

The new registration initiative begins this week, and will be rolled out site wide over several weeks. Unregistered readers will still be able to access the home page, but access to majority of the site will require registration.

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