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A Dynamic Paywall Could Be Your Next Audience Analytics Tool

Updated: Mar 16

A lot of the conversations we’ve been having lately about reader revenue center around strategies for converting readers. But like the proverbial tip of the iceberg, having a good immediate strategy to get your subscribers in the door only begins to scratch the surface of a truly cohesive reader revenue strategy. In fact, the rise in reader revenue is launching a revolution in organizational structure and culture. At the heart of this revolution is audience analytics.

A recent study showed that a significant portion of the publishers surveyed put audience analytics tools at the top of their buying list for 2018. The Reuters Institute Digital News Report digs a little deeper. Audience analytics is not just about specific tools, but about an organization’s overall analytic capability. That means the right set of tools as well as the organizational structure to take advantage of those tools and a culture that embraces a data-driven approach. Successful organizations are discovering that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to audience analytics, and it’s important to find the right combination of tools and best practices to hit organizational goals. Dynamic paywalls that incorporate machine learning and offer built-in analytics capabilities could give organizations a leg up in this space.

The Role of Audience Analytics in a Changing Landscape

Until fairly recently journalists have been operating in somewhat of a black hole when it comes to understanding what their audience really wants at a granular level. Now new job titles are starting to emerge that showcase a growing commitment to audience engagement within organizations.

The emergence of positions such as “audience development editor” and “audience engagement editor” are more proof that companies are looking to bake this new way of doing things into the fabric of the organization, and with this comes the need for the appropriate tools. Hence also the appearance of what is becoming known as “editorial analytics”, bespoke analytics tools and strategies that speak directly to the needs and organizational goals of publishers.

We’ve also seen the appearance of publishing-specific tools like Chartbeat,, and NewsWhip in addition to traditional generic tools like Google Analytics and Omniture. Whether you rely on reader revenue for your primary revenue strategy or continue to diversify your revenue streams, it’s time to incorporate the technological structure to achieve your long-term goals.

The Benefits of Dynamic Paywalls in Analytics-based Messaging

So why should dynamic paywalls be part of this audience analytics toolkit?

  1. Centralized Platform: There’s a lot that goes into implementing a paywall successfully and a host of people who need to be involved in the process. As newsrooms make the structural transition necessary to capitalize on audience insights, simplicity is going to be key to implementation. Where possible, having a centralized location will help all who need to have access to valuable and actionable information. This creates a cohesive experience both for your users and your staff. Some dynamic paywall technologies have CRM, support, and detailed analytics capabilities built into the platform, allowing you to manage churn as well as increase subscribers and continue customer engagement all in the same location.

  2. Target a subset of conversion-ready readers: Dynamic paywalls allow you to target a small subset of readers who are actually willing to pay and ready to convert, anticipating conversion readiness based on audience behavior, device, location, and a host of other factors. There is still an understandable uneasiness when it comes to paywalls. After all, you don’t want to lose your reader base by putting up a paywall too soon or without knowing your audience. Using a dynamic paywall means you can target only the traffic that has the greatest likelihood of subscribing and still continue to generate ad revenue on the majority of your readers. For example, say you have a local newspaper and you want to offer paid subscriptions only to those who live in the area or within a certain city. Say you also find that most subscribers are only ready to pay if they’ve visited the website up to ten times. You can target just that subset of potential subscribers and gain valuable insight into the types of content that your potential reader base is really engaging with. This is also actionable information for your editorial team.

  3. Testing Automation: Audience insight is most valuable when you’ve tested and tested and tested. Many organizations are still trying to find the structure that works best to organize massive amounts of data as they pivot to a more reader-focused business model. So why not use AI technology to help with the process? The Reuters report found that nearly three-quarters of those surveyed were already using Artificial Intelligence to some extent or another. With dynamic paywall technology you can run as many tests as you want allowing the technology to act on data for you in real time so that you can free up your staff for editorial priorities.

In the end, reader revenue is about much more than simply upping subscriber numbers or boosting membership sales. It’s about changing the current model and adapting with the technologies at hand to create a new and hopefully more holistic ecosystem for publishing.

Are you interested in using a dynamic paywall to increase your reader revenue and engage your audience? Our content subscription platform gives you the ability to capitalize on audience insights for improved conversion and retention. Contact us to learn more.


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