Flexible Paywall Lets Readers ‘Pay’ With Loyalty or By Watching Ads

Those of us here in the subscription content industry are more than familiar with the traditional kind of paywall, whereby some content is accessible

Those of us here in the subscription content industry are more than familiar with the traditional kind of paywall, whereby some content is accessible only to paying readers. Canadian startup SlimCut Media, however, has an idea for a new, more flexible kind of subscription arrangement, and it’s already signed on several publisher clients.The premise is this: Readers can still access content by purchasing a subscription package, as they do with a traditional paywall. Alternative options, however, include watching ads or using loyalty points earned through regular visits, shares and comments.

“We are the only one doing the three in one,” Damien Véran, president and co-founder of SlimCut Media, told the Toronto Star’s Star Business Club. “By integrating all of them, you can give the choice to readers on how they want to access the content.”Current clients include Canada’s National Post and Financial Post — both part of the Postmedia network — along with Quebecor and clients in Europe and Brazil. The United States is reportedly next on SlimCut’s list of geographies to target. The screenshot below depicts the points system on NationalPost.com.

However, we’re a bit skeptical about a full deployment of this option as three options will surely cut into the predictability of traditional subscription revenue. Then again, the difference may well be offset if video ads garner more revenues and social sharing helps reduce marketing costs.Therefore, this may be a viable option for breaking and daily news sites, which have to compete with more free sites than any other niche. In the news niche, choice and control can help sway audiences sometimes — as the Chicago Sun-Times demonstrated after adding a Bitcoin payment option recently.Subscribers to our premium site, Subscription Site Insider, know that the best practices in this arena are evolving quickly, and paywalls are no exception; this will certainly be a development to keep an eye on. For more on the latest best practices, check out our Paywall Optimization Toolkit.

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