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By Thomas Baekdal - March 2018

Newsletter: Paywalls, Publishers and Facebook Watch

This is an archived version of a Baekdal Plus newsletter (it's free). It is sent out about once per week and features the latest articles as well as unique insights written specifically for the newsletter. If you want to get the next one, don't hesitate to add your email to the list.

In this edition:


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

It's kind of funny to think back over the past eight years and see how the notion of paywalls has changed. Eight years ago everyone would tell you that you were an idiot if you created a paywall. But look at it today. Now everyone has realized how important it is. Even BuzzFeed's Jonah Peretti started talking about it when he said: "It's possible. A partial paywall could make sense."

Of course, a paywall is not just a paywall, because there are so many different ways that you can implement one. And in this 40-page report, we are going to take a deep dive into the many different paywall models available and talk about what works and what doesn't work for different publishers.

https://baekdal.com/monetization/metered-hybrid-closed-donated-shared-what-paywall-works-the-best/


Facebook Watch vs Publishers

It's frustrating to hear publishers talk about Facebook because it's like watching one of those abusive relationships.

The latest episode in this story is Facebook Watch with news like this: "Facebook is reportedly working with some publishers to launch a news section for its Watch platform."

My reaction is to say: Really? Why do publishers keep doing this?

Facebook has repeatedly proven that it's not a good platform for publishers, and especially for news publishers. So why would you spend your time, money and resources helping Facebook launch yet another thing? Do you really think it will work this time? And even if it did, should you be the one taking that initial risk?

This might seem like a strange thing for me to say because I'm always advocating that publishers should innovate and experiment with new things. But there is a difference between experimenting with new things and just doing the same thing over and over again, hoping that this time it might be different.

Let me give a simple example. Back in 2011, we could read this in The Guardian:

Introducing the Guardian's new Facebook app: Today, we're unveiling our first Facebook app, a new social news experience that makes it easier for Facebook users to discover Guardian content online with and via their friends.

So, did it work?

No, of course not. And the reason why it didn't work is that Facebook is fundamentally designed in a way that isn't compatible with what we need as publishers.

The problem with Facebook is that it's optimizing for as wide a scale as possible. So while it may be partnering with a few publishers now, the economics change once they open it up to more and more publishers. The outcome of that is very little revenue per channel.

The only way for publishers to win the 'too many channels' game is to focus on getting picked, and to encourage people to focus their attention rather than spreading it across as many different channels. Facebook is not designed for that.

And, in relation to Facebook Watch, Facebook is massively boosting Watch in its newsfeed, with some reporting that videos shared from Watch are getting 3 times as many views as videos shared from their Facebook Pages. This means that the result that you see from it is completely unreliable as a measure of whether it works or not.

So my advice to you is to say this:

"Look Facebook. For the past 7 years we have spent our money and resources trying to make Facebook work, and every time it has failed once you started scaling it. This time we are not going to play with you. We are going to spend our time experimenting with something different, and, once you have proven that Facebook Watch actually works and that you can give us real metrics and revenue figures, then we can talk"

This is an archived version of a Baekdal Plus newsletter (it's free). It is sent out about once per week and features the latest articles as well as unique insights written specifically for the newsletter. If you want to get the next one, don't hesitate to add your email to the list.

 
 
 

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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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