A major news event just occurred and you, like the rest of the world, go to Google to read about it. You find an article that seems interesting, or maybe it’s on your favorite news site, and you barely glimpse at the first paragraph before being hit with a paywall. The phenomenon of paying for digital content is not new, but it has become more widespread in the past few years. While video content providers like Netflix and Hulu have set up digital subscriptions, publications that produce premium content also want to capitalize on the pay-to-access trend. You’ve probably encountered pop-ups on sites like The New York Times, The Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal and countless more. There are several ways they can get you to pay and the truth is that most people will, although they may not like it.
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Paywalls have a clear purpose. Digital publications want to generate revenue from the premium content they produce. The content comes with a price tag because this type of content requires more time and resources in order to create it.
In a more general sense, paywalls can also be viewed as the monetary exchange between publishers and their readership. Not all paywalls require users to drop a few bucks on an article. Some persuade readers to whitelist or bookmark a page for further use. Digital presses might even allow free access to a particular article if a user provides their email address. The purpose of this of course is to later send promotional emails to encourage a particular reader to come back for more content. There are even instances where a reader can share a post on social media for free access to content. The price is not always monetary. The price can be personal data exchange, and even free advertisement for the press. The content that users access from many news and digital presses is in fact paid for. The NY Times reached 7.5 million subscribers in 2020 with the Guardian following second with 3 million. What’s more is that the NY Times jumped to 8.5 million subscribers in 2021 and brought in $50 million in revenue from digital subscribers alone. Needless to say, with this sort of success, paywalls are here to stay.
However, with more and more companies implementing different kinds of paywalls, the amount of information that could be found on other sites for free began to shrink. More users started to adjust to paywall practices and now The Times of London generates over $60 million a year of previously nonexistent revenue.
The metered model works by allowing a certain number of free articles. Once the number of articles per month is hit, a user is prompted with a paywall in order to access more articles. For many businesses, determining the right amount of content that is freely available is crucial. Publishers have two main decisions: how many stories are free and what to charge once they aren’t.
The Financial Times has seen promising growth with this model. The publication has reached its highest-ever paid circulation for print and digital products. In total, the company has over 1.17 million paying customer and is on track to reach 1 million digital-only subscribers. Their growth has been exponential since the introduction of their metered paywall in 2002.
This type of paywall is most often used by companies with a smaller target audience. Otherwise known as the reverse paywall, a freemium paywall works by splitting up paid vs. free access by content type. This way certain articles are behind paywalls while others are free. There is no metered number of freely accessible articles before being locked out.
We let you have your feed, your way. With Invisibly, you can earn points with your data and spend those points to access content you want to see. To discover how your data can give you access to thousands of premium articles, without the subscription, view our everything content page to learn more.
Here at Invisibly, we are making paywalls invisible. It is simple, you can earn points by answering simple surveys, interacting with content, and more; on our platform’s app or website. With these points you can access premium content on your Invisibly feed with the click of a button. Quality information doesn’t have to be expensive or inaccessible, with Invisibly, you can pass through paywalls to see the content you love. See what other publishers have said about Invisibly in the news.
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