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Plus Report - By Thomas Baekdal - February 2022

Known to work: What paywall models work, and for what?

It is truly amazing to see just how far we have come with paid-for media over the past decade. We started with literally nothing, meaning that nobody online was willing to pay for anything. But today, many publishers have either already turned paid into their primary online revenue stream, or are on the way to it.

This is amazing.

Part of this success is that paid-for is not just one model. It's a combination of many different models that each publisher fits into whatever they are doing.

So, in this article, we are going to talk about all the different paid-for models that we know to work, what they work for, and also what they don't work for.

BTW: This is my second article in my 'known to work' series. It's a series focusing on things that we know work for publishers right now, based on real data and/or real examples. The first article was "Known to work: Designing the paywall and journalistic focus", where we talked about the stop-rate, how to set meters, and the importance of the newsroom in all of this.

But, the metered paywall is only one of many models. So let's talk about what paid-for media is, and what models we know work with it.

What does 'paid-for' media mean?

Every time I talk about paid-for media, I often come across a common perception that it means "media that you have to pay for before you can see it".

This was the old definition of paid-for media. A print newspaper, print magazine, or a cable TV channel was only viewable once you had paid for it.

Online, however, this is not the only model. In fact, the hard paywall only works for a very few and highly specific things. Most other publishers have other forms of paid-for media.

So, when I talk about paid-for media. I don't mean a hard paywall. Instead, I mean any model where a publisher's primary focus is to get people to pay ... but there are many ways to do this.

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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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