By: Karina Fabian, Marketing Communications Specialist

Digital paywalls have come a long way since their inception. Not only are there multiple ways to implement paywalls, from allowing one-time access after a partial read to demanding full subscriptions, reader audiences are growing more accustomed to seeing them. Even among young adults, which the industry previously insisted would never pay for information on the web, are increasingly willing to pay for subscriptions for content and services they value.

In this two-part series, we look at the pros and cons of paywalls. This week we look at seven reasons to use a paywall on your media news site.

  1. You have a loyal audience who will pay for your services. Contrary to popular belief, a large percentage of readers willing to pay for their news, even on the Internet. Some newspapers do extremely well with paywalls encouraging paid subscriptions. The New York Times, for example, makes over 20 percent of its income on digital-only subscriptions.
  2. You offer high-value, specific content not easily found elsewhere. Professional journals, particularly medical or scientific ones, that publish online are a great case for paywalls because their information is valuable to a specific audience and for an express purpose. In some cases, offering a single-use fee paywall as well as a subscription can generate revenue from those who come for a specific, single-time need.
  3. Your ad income is not reliable. If your ad sales fluctuate enough to impact your budget significantly, the paywalls can provide a stable income – if your readers are willing to pay.
  4. You want to provide it as an alternative to ad-based viewing. Some digital media sites are offering readers a choice by providing an ad-free website for those who pay a small fee. The Atlantic has had success using this with readers who have an ad blocker installed.
  5. You have highly engaged readers. Paywalls don’t work as well with casual readers, who come for a specific article once in a while. By tracking engagement – how long a reader remains on the site, how many pages and links they click – you can determine how likely they would pay to read your publication. You can encourage casual readers to stay longer by offering free guest passes, then asking them to subscribe once they visit more regularly.
  6. You are building (or maintaining) a reputation for quality. There’s an unwritten assumption that something bought is of higher quality than something free. In addition, people who pay for a service generally use it more than those who get it for free. With a paywall, you send a message that your journalism is more valuable than something that can be found on free sites. Plus, your paying readers are more likely to turn to you instead of a source they find via search.
  7. People are accustomed to paying for things online. As people have gotten used to paying for things online via a credit card or online payment service like PayPal, the resistance against paying for information has lessened. It’s easier to ask and to have a reader trust you with their payment information.

NEWSCYCLE Solutions offers a paywall application that is flexible and easy to implement as part of its circulation and subscription management systems. Learn more at