Compare a site like Facebook to your average news site. Facebook knows almost everything about its users, because they are registered and profiled. It has a close, sophisticated relationship with its users that many sites can only dream about. Yes, this is the nature of a social networking site, but why should news sites miss out? The average news site does not have this kind of knowledge about their users. Of course there are exceptions, but I’d argue this is the norm.
For example, compare the relationship Facebook has with a user like me, to the relationship that a generalist news site like CNN.com has with me. CNN.com doesn’t know I exist, Facebook knows all about me.
Privacy concerns about profiling users are generally trumped up and overblown, because the point of collecting information is to allow a site to deliver more relevant content, services and advertising to the user, not to invade their privacy. In any case, a user enters into a trust relationship with the news brand, which reputable news brands will not abuse. It’s a non-issue.
For the new M&G Online site, users will now get dashboards which allow us to deliver rich content and functionality. There are no blocks on content — users can access all articles without needing to register, but to take advantage of advanced features on the site, they need to be registered. A news site has to ensure that the features are compelling enough to make most of your users want to register with the site.