Reader Revenue
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How Hearst Newspapers changes its paywall to drive reader loyalty

Hearst Newspapers has replaced its one-size-fits-all paywall with a customizable one. The newspaper group, with 24 daily and 64 weekly papers, including titles such as the San Francisco Chronicle, has been tinkering with a paywall whose permeability changes depending on who’s visiting and what they’re reading.

The new paywall replaces a system where editors chose which content was paywalled and which wasn’t. Under the new system, first-time readers can consume as much content as they want, and the amount they consume dictates when they hit the paywall and if or when they are shown a subscription offer.

“The whole approach is: ‘I want to win your trust,’” said Esfand Pourmand, svp of revenue at Hearst Newspapers Digital.

At the Albany Times-Union, the first paper to test the flexible paywall, the total number of subscribers has doubled since it started tests in September, and the overall number of new subscriber numbers for Hearst Newspapers has jumped 10 percent.

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