Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Paywalls versus Advertising? Why Not Both? Publishers Debate the Viability of Paywalls

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Paywalls versus Advertising? Why Not Both? Publishers Debate the Viability of Paywalls

Article excerpt

Advertising and paywalls are often viewed as a mutually exclusive proposition but they can successfully co-exist, according to participants at a roundtable at DPAC (Digital Publishing and Advertising Conference) earlier this month.

"Why not dual models?" said Andrew Rutledge, vice president and general manager of publisher development at PubMatic. "Who's paying for digital content from more than two providers? The market can only support two or three players with a paywall. I don't think the paywall is THE solution, it's one of many."

However, Brian Hecht, senior vice president of publisher premium services at TheStreet. com, which offers 10 premium content products ranging from $200 to $5,000 per year, thinks the market opportunity is larger. "I don't agree that only two to three publishers can succeed with a paywall but I do agree that it's difficult to sell subscriptions. It's a complex process, we have a significant marketing department, we have people with PhDs running this, but the company would not be where it is without the stable advertising side."

Brian White, vice president of publisher solutions at Vibrant Media, a company that specializes in contextual advertising, agreed that subscriptions and advertising can co-exist online, but only with certain types of advertising [naturally]. "Behavioral and contextual advertising are becoming more valuable," he said. "Display advertising can now target by characteristics but I'm not sure if higher CPMs can mitigate the loss of pageviews."

Paying for Content or for Access on a Select Device?

The panelists cited News Corp.'s The Daily and The New York Times as two publishers taking different approaches to paid content--with The Daily only available on select devices, while The New York Times is charging for content across a variety of platforms. "Is the value simply that you can access it on the iPad? …

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