Paywall strategy can strengthen print, says Press+ VP

Installing a paywall can “help to strengthen your print franchise”, said Matt Skibinski, vice president of Affiliate Relations, Press+, USA today at the Digital Innovators’ Summit in Berlin. “Paywalls increase retention and eliminate fully free content”, he added.

According to Skibinski, most publishers in North America already have a paid model, or are working on one.  He suggested that when approaching the idea of implementing paid content, publishers should be very careful, and test a metered model first. “Don’t surprise them with fact they have to pay! Ease them into it, market to them before they’ve used their metered content and introduce the idea of paying for content first.” Skibinski said that 30 per cent of all sales on digital subscriptions sites come from pop-ups explaining that there is a paywall in place.

Skibinski encouraged publishers to experiment with metered content, saying that the limit should be 10 pages/stories or less. “The New York Times have set their meter at 20, but they have thousands of pieces of content on their site. Most publishers have fewer pieces of content, so you have to think about it as a proportion of what is available. But testing is the only way to know for sure.” He said that most publishers set the bar a little higher, and then see how low they can go.

“The average metered content level has dropped”, said Skibinski. “In January 2012, it was average of of 13, now it’s 10. Publishers aren’t seeing a negative impact (as some expect), so are setting meter lower. On average, the meter level is decreasing and the average subscription price is increasing.”

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