Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Strategy

Introducing your new Pay-wall

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Strategy

I spent the day with a great client, struggling with the notion of effectively charging users to access his premium content.


He has a great idea, he knows his content and logically, users should pay for his content.

The challenge however is this.

We’re trained not to pay for content. Ever.

Indeed, I read a stat a few years back that said that 2% of the Internet population pays for 100% of its content. And I’ll be most of that is pornography.

(What we ultimately discovered is that it ultimately comes down to how you spin your offer, though that is a more complex blog and one I’ll leave until the website is launched.)

We’ve all read about News Limited pay-walling its websites and requiring users to pay before they can get in. Albeit, without a great deal of success. And certainly not enough success to wipe your hands of the Internet model and how it might be able to remunerate businesses producing expensive content for online, such as News Limited and Fairfax.

Indeed, this article kindly outlines the key stats involved with The Australian pay-wall experiment.

As of October 2011, The Australian has 1.2m unique browsers a month of which 250k are classed as ‘heavy users’. Of these heavy users, The Australian expects to convert 10% to paid users.

25,000 unique users x $7.95/month = $200k/month.

Based on those numbers, that is an increase of about $1.75/user per month.

Not a huge difference, though presumably less bandwidth and so some lowered costs.

At this stage however, pay-walls do not fix the revenue issue faced by the likes of News Limited and others.

Not close.

So what is the answer?

Time will tell, though the advertising and indirect affiliate market has not yet been unable to come to the plate and is unlikely to do so.

Perhaps Google Consumer Surveys hints at the answer?

Essentially, rather than paying to access content, users answer a short survey.

The website is paid for hosting the survey and the market research company gets its survey data.

Google takes a cut.

As long as it is well executed, it provides a lower barrier than paying and will be considerably faster.

Based on the pricing on Google’s website and some rough calculations I did, if a user returned, say daily to a news website and the website asked one question a day, it would be well ahead.

A lot of assumptions there of course. And it only works in the US as this point.

Plenty of websites have previously required users to view ads before accessing content. Surveys are a big part of how affiliates make their money.

News websites are their own beasts however and answering surveys to access their guts may not be an answer.

If I worked at News Limited however, I’d be considering it … and every other option available to me.

Because the traditional pay-wall isn’t work as yet.