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What is a paywall: An Evolving Definition

Updated: Mar 9


We live in a digitally transformed society. As an online business, there are only so many ways for a business to generate revenue. Advertising is a common source of income for a large number of websites. However, relying solely on advertising revenue has become increasingly difficult with tech giants like Facebook and Google taking roughly 70% of new online advertising spend. Additionally, Adblocking continues to increase with over 30% of all internet users employing Adblocking services.


That’s why companies have started to diversify and shift their focus towards generating revenue from their website visitors in the form of subscriptions, memberships, donations, and one-time purchases. There is no better way to drive revenue from website visitors than by using paywalls.


What is a Paywall?

Webster’s dictionary defines a paywall as “a system that prevents Internet users from accessing certain Web content without a paid subscription”. However, the definition of a paywall is not set in stone, as it’s constantly updated and redefined. Today, paywalls serve a bigger purpose than just gating content.


Paywalls have become a way to interact with website visitors and incentivize certain actions or behaviors. A common and more traditional use-case for paywalls is to interact with visitors by gating content until they have become a paying subscriber.


Paywalls can restrict access to any of the company’s offerings, not just content. They empower businesses to take direct control of their offerings and using it to increase newsletter signups, discover new sales leads through user registration, generate one time payments through the sale of products, reports, and events, and generate recurring revenue through paid subscriptions, memberships, and donations.

Different Kinds of Paywalls:

Successful paywall strategies are dependent on the needs of the business and its audience. Paywalls come in many different forms and with varying functionality. Which is why it’s important to know the different options available.


1- Hard Paywalls

Also known as premium paywalls, they restrict access to the company’s offerings unless the user has made a payment.

THN.com’s All-Access Member area is a great example of a hard paywall, gating premium content while access to the remaining features on the website remains untouched.

2- Soft Paywalls

Also known as Metered Paywalls, these provide users with limited access to the company’s offerings before asking them to pay.

3- Newsletter Paywalls

These paywalls restrict access to a company’s offerings in exchange for the visitor signing up for a newsletter. This allows the company to then use the data in email campaigns geared towards converting them to paying users over time.

4- Registration Paywalls

Registration Paywalls restrict access to a company’s offering until visitors create an account by providing relevant information to the company.

5- Freemium Paywalls

Freemium paywalls are a combination of traditional soft or hard paywalls paired with a free offering behind a registration paywall.


6- Dynamic paywalls

A dynamic paywall is essentially a smarter paywall. They allow companies to do things like target where, when, and to whom the paywall is shown. Some dynamic paywalls are also powered by machine learning algorithms.


How can your company benefit from a paywall?

Implementing a paywall can enhance the way your business interacts with existing customers while reinventing your approach to communicating with the rest of your website’s visitors.

Want to find out if Pelcro is the right paywall provider for you? Try it for free or set up a demo call with one of our experts.

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