3 Kinds of Paywall For Your Digital Publications


Business logic will tell you that if you have something that fulfills a need or a want, charge for it. Makes sense, right? But, this age is challenging that logic.

With a wide variety of media offering information to us from everywhere and at all angles, charging for the pleasure of reading your digital publication has come to a crossroads.

You can choose to continue to distribute your valuable content for no charge, and capitalize on advertising revenue by target-minded advertisers, who are looking to reach your digital publication’s captured audience, or you can set up a paywall and charge for information that enables the success of your publishing business.

Choosing the right paywall is not always easy, but if you do your research, and you know about your potential readers, you can get it right. Extracted from Gabe Weisert article in Zuora Academy, let’s take a look at three basic paywalls you can implement for your digital publication.

1. Hard Paywalls

A hard paywall typically only displays an article title and a few introductory paragraphs before prompting the reader to pay. They’re more common among professional and financial titles.

The introduction of a hard paywall results in a dramatic and immediate loss of digital audience, but over time it can cultivate a dedicated readership. The Times of London lost over 90% of its audience after the debut of its paywall, but it now generates over $60 million a year of previously nonexistent revenue.

The Wall Street Journal’s version of a hard paywall includes a range of selected free articles – it launched in 1997 and now has roughly 900,000 subscribers.

2. Metered Access

Currently the most popular subscription platform, the metered access paywall was pioneered by the Financial Times and later successfully adopted by the New York Times and hundreds of newspapers around the world. It allows a certain number of free articles per month, after which the “velvet rope” subscription prompt is lowered.

For the metered paywalls, determining the right paid content threshhold is very important. Publishers have to make two core decisions: how many stories to give away, and what to charge afterwards. Typically this is done through A/B testing over the course of several months.

Metering can also be attractive for out-of-market audiences: a newspaper could charge its domestic base but offer its content free to international audiences to help develop a global audience.

3. Freemium

Hard and metered paywalls are a good option for high-volume sites with traffic in the millions, but a poor option for more low-traffic, niche-specific  or regional titles. Publications that are targeting a smaller audience should adopt consider a “reverse paywall,” or freemium model that divides free and paid access by type of content, not number of visits.

Read  full article on Zuora Academy.

Digital publications give readers an enhanced online content experience. This shake-up has already reached publishers’ doors. And it’s high time for you to learn more about the new opportunities brought in by the proliferation of mobile and tablet devices. You don’t have to crawl your way alone, Realview can help!