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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - March 2018

Metered, Hybrid, Closed, Donated? What Paywall Works the Best?

One question that many of my clients have asked me is "what type of paywall is the best one?" And the answer is always "it depends..." There are many different factors to consider.

Fundamentally, the best paywall is the one that fits your editorial focus in combination with your audience behavior. But even this definition is too simple, because usually the paywall and the actual decision to pay aren't the problem. The problem is to get people to the point of paying.

In fact, in many cases, the paywall itself doesn't work. For instance, here on this site, my paywall (which is actually a paygate, but more about that later) doesn't work by itself. Almost every person that subscribed to this site either did so because of sharing or because of the free trial system.

Those are the two elements that makes it work, not the paywall itself.

So, in this 40 page Plus report, we are going to take a very detailed look at this. We are going to talk about paywalls (or what some call 'hard paywalls'), paygates, metered paywalls, hybrid paywalls, product walls, single-copy sales, donation based 'walls', premium paywalls, the access model, and the importance of upselling.

With each one we are also going to talk about the before and after, like the importance of free trials (before) and the importance of sharing (after), as well as how much marketing and selling is required to make each one work.

So let's dive into this very exciting, but also very complicated world of paywalls.

Momentum or moments

The first thing we need to talk about is the difference between whether a paywall is designed around an ongoing flow of content or whether you just get a single item.

Ongoing paywalls are those where, once you subscribe, you are provided with full access to everything until you choose to cancel. In other words, it's about building up and sustaining the momentum of your readers over time.

But this is not the only model, just as important is the one-time access model, where you pay to access a specific thing. And if we look at the different paywalls, we can divide these up like this:

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What is Baekdal?

Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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