While publishers use paywalls to “survive,” they do have a downside. The paywalls, which add revenue, draw the most educated and higher-earning consumers, effectively starving those who either cannot afford the subscription or do not want to pay the price to subscribe.
"Starve" might be too strong a word, so "deprive" or "prevent" can be used instead. Paywalls deprive or prevent users from accessing certain knowledge and information. After all, the internet was built on the premise of disseminating ad-supported information to educate those searching for answers online.
In exchange for those answers, consumers would give up personal information about themselves.
Subscriptions aren’t coming easily for publishers. In fact, a February 2018 report by the American Press Institute notes that it took 70% of readers more than a month to subscribe and nearly 50% took a year.
This past week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Winterberry Group released The State of Data 2018 report, which estimates that U.S. companies will spend more than $19 billion -- up 17.5% compared with a year ago -- in 2018 on audience data, including platforms that manage, process and analyze.
The growth comes with the prediction that for the first time, U.S. marketers will spend more on digital data assets than any other type of data.
The IAB’s report provides clues on how this all will shake out. Marketers and data providers want to increase transparency in 2019. Many will work on standards, driven mostly by new regulations in Europe and those expected in the U.S.
Some will work with blockchain developers to create applications that track the provenance of data and ensure greater supply-chain transparency, according to the IAB. This may be the solution to take down whatever existing walls or paywalls exist today.
The IAB report also suggests that 2019 won’t “truly” become the “Year of Attribution,” but it will identity ways to solving some of the long-standing challenges. Analysis in the report also suggests it may mean a shift back to outsourcing this function -- not to media agencies, but data providers and consultants.
Finally, the adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence is likely to drive an increased adoption for first- and third-party data to feed triggers and real-time decisions.