|The Australian's online traffic has dropped by nearly 40 per cent on some days since the masthead launched its online paywall on 24 October, although the company said it was in line with expectations.
According to Nielsen figures, ‘same day' comparisons before and after the paywall launch show declines ranging typically from 15-39 per cent.
The Australian's chief operating officer John Allan told AdNews it was in line with what News Limited had planned.
"We expected and planned for that. When you go to a digital subscription strategy you absolutely expect to see a drop of that nature. Keep in mind we're in a free three-month trial period. We've been pretty aggressive in the first three weeks driving people to subscriptions. It means we've got a heavy percentage of content which is premium-only content," he said.
At present, Allan said 40-60 per cent of The Australian's stories online were behind the paywall, but ad revenues had not been affected. "Another point to keep in mind is that anywhere between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of our inventory is not sold on any given day. Is it having an impact on advertising? No. Are we meeting our ad targets? Yes."
Allan said he expected online audience declines - or unique browsers - to "balance out somewhere in that 15-25 per cent range". "We're only in week three in terms of learnings," he said. "Average time on site has gone up slightly - we're close to 10 minutes per user."
Allan said international benchmarks for the ratio of digital subscribers to print circulations ranged from 20-67 per cent, with the latter being for The Wall Street Journal.
"If [digital subscriptions] are only 20 per cent [of circulation] in two years we would be disappointed," he said.