How Exactly does a Paywall Platform Work, And Will It Work For Us?


It was only a short while ago that it seemed that paywalls were completely frowned upon in the publishing industry. However, the vast developments of digital media and social media, has pushed the hands of publishers to rethink their business strategies and implement new ideologies in order to continue making money. The answer? Paywalls.

We’ve previously written blogs on what these specific strategies are, and you can read both of them here and here, but in today’s blog, we’ll be identifying the characteristics of a metered paywall, and whether it could potentially suit you as a business.

Whilst it’s true that paywalls are becoming the norm at US newspapers, it’s not conclusive that they will only succeed in certain countries.So why are news sites delaying paywalls and failing to adopt a new business model to generate revenue?


Why Would I put my content behind a wall?


This is the most frequent question asked by publishers. Why would we risk alienating our current readers by becoming greedy chasing money? To put it simply, it’s not greed at all to implement a paywall, and we’ll explain this in detail. Unfortunately, with the beauty of social media comes the bad. Everyone has a voice, and whilst this may be brilliant to empower as many people as possible, it’s almost impossible to police 330 million active monthly users on Twitter, and the 1.86 billion Facebook users worldwide.

So this is essentially the main issue. Everyone can say what they want, and there’s nobody to stop them as there’s safety in numbers. The influx of fake news infiltrating and misleading millions of people is frightening. This is exactly where publishers can effectively come in and save the day. By putting your content behind a paywall, it’s guaranteeing your readers that the content you’re offering is of high quality and is reliable. Many publishers have scrapped the whole idea of running with breaking news, due to the fact that it’s far more convenient for users to quickly log onto social networks, as opposed to paying for social content.


What are the characteristics of a paywall?

  1. Understand who your customers are and their habits

How is your customer base broken down?

Casual = visitor

Regular = user

Repeat = Customer

For news websites, casual readers or “fly-bys” make up a whopping 93% of unique visitors (Williams and Pickard 2015)

  1. Profile your customers

Make data collection incremental and seamless, collecting in small increments and using external sources such as social to enhance the data.

  • Who they are
  • What they are reading
  • What they are saying
  • What they are buying
  • What they are liking
  • Bring it all together to make it actionable
  • Create a single customer view to engage effectively with your customer base
  1. Segment your customersso you can engage with them in real-time and push news they want to read and offers that would appeal to them.

Create personas for individual customers based on data points targeting them with a call to action in real time. Example data points include; Section, Author, Date article published, Device, Location, Recency.

  1. Personalise 

    offers and call to actions so you have an individual relationship

Emails, newsletters, Offers, Specialised content, Advertising.

  1. Keep the product offering simple to understand


Paywalls are at the forefront of the publishing industry agenda when discussing digital content. To make them work for your business it’s imperative to know your customers and not to be afraid to try things out. If decision makers are unsure about the strategy then start with a low risk model, build up, refine and optimise. If something is not working make changes, allow yourself to adapt. Customer browsing habits are changing as rapidly as Technology is, why are publishers afraid to keep up?


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