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Paywall Survey

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Monday May 21, 2012 )

Paywalls have become more common over the last few years – so are people paying to play?

I guess they must be – I haven’t seen too many reversals once a paywall is implemented; but for most small publishers such a move would be suicide unless their content is quality in quantity/and or can’t be viewed elsewhere.

I’m yet to fork out for subscription access past a paywall, even when one of my favorite destinations started charging – I’m certainly not opposed to them though. Quality content takes time and time is money. I just prefer to support the sites I frequent by enduring the advertising.

A recent survey by Digicareers revealed a bit more about paywall attitudes – but it was a fairly small sample (200) and among new media professionals.

The survey found the services with the most paying customers were movies, magazines and music respectively.

Among the respondents, only one in three (34%) negatively viewed companies that employ paywalls – the majority accepting them is understandable given the demographic. I’m not sure if you would see the same result from 200 Joe Surfers.

When faced with a paywall, more than half of those surveyed (52%) skedaddle, while 42% give pulling out the plastic some thought. Nearly a quarter try getting around the paywall; either by altering computer settings or accessing via a paying friend or colleague’s account. 25% said they would not revisit a site after hitting a paywall.

The survey group were certainly no strangers to paywalls – particularly the “surprise” type, with more than two-thirds claiming they encountered an unexpected paywall trap.

55% said a free trial or promotion is the most persuasive method to encourage their purchase.

If you’re considering putting up a paywall, think it over carefully – particularly given that 25% figure mentioned relating to users who never return. A poorly thought out trial could see you lose a decent chunk of your traffic that won’t come back even if you reverse it.

One alternative that seems very interesting is action based access – such as completing a microsurvey; a concept Google is testing.

You can read more of Digicareer’s paywall survey results here.


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