Paywalls are a missed chance to establish value and nurture value with users, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, and forcing users into subscriptions will prove to be a harmful decision. Users want easy, and reasonably-priced, access to the individual pieces of content they actually want to consume. If publishers embrace the idea of the ‘article of one,’ even audiences who are currently cash-constrained will participate, contribute, and be able to afford to consume this media, establishing real value and lasting relationships.
- Given the unique situation we find ourselves in with COVID-19, just because publishers have seen traffic to their sites increasing , it doesn’t mean that those visitors will translate into increased subscriptions.
- Everyone’s counting their pennies – perhaps the most fundamental issue with expecting people to pay for subscriptions right now is the fact that, after their health, the second biggest concern on everyone’s minds is their financial well-being.
- Streaming is king during lockdown – Disney and Netflix literally have a captive audience that is desperately seeking distraction – so if there’s one subscription users will go for, it’s entertainment, not news.
- Readers are used to getting content for free – many publishers relaxed their paywalls during COVID-19. But now audiences have gotten a taste of being able to access the content they want, whenever they want it without being required to register or pay, and they’re more likely to resent the shift back to the paid model.
- Alternative approaches:
- Ask for voluntary contributions
- Focus on user-centric paid content offerings
- Consider the ‘article of one’
- The winners will be those publishers who establish value by finding the right balance between giving people access to the highest quality content they can offer while monetizing it in a simple and user-centric way.