Pay As You Go: Firm Says The Answer To Paywall Resistance Is To Charge Per Click

Even the savviest publisher has to wonder if paywalls are driving away valuable readers and killing ad impressions. A recent study by Toolkits and National Research Group found that 53% of consumers attempt to bypass paywalls, and 69% avoid clicking through when they know the site has one.

A European startup named Sesamy claims it has the answer to this problem: a pay-per-click model in which the visitor pays to read single articles, maybe for a dollar per click. The new service, SmartID, has been garnering publicity in recent days. 

Some media brands have tried the pay-per-click approach in the past, but did not stick with it, the company claims. 

These older services lacked “software to show which articles and for which readers pay-per-click should be an option,”  states co-founder and CEO Måns Ulvestam.

They may also have failed to meet the other challenge: charging per click without endangering topline subscription revenue. 



It's not clear if pay-per-click would work for mass media sites in the U.S., or would be worth the trouble based on the limited evidence available. 

A standard practice for major sites is to offer a few free articles, then to move the person along to a full subscription. 

That may be undone in some cases by a new offering from the email service provider Yahoo Mail.  The new tool, Free Trial Tracker, delivers top-of-inbox reminders that help consumers manage trial subscriptions. Alerts are sent when a “free trial” period is about to expire, so the user can decide whether to continue a subscription or cancel before getting charged. 

When should a person be offered a freebie or a pay-per-click? That’s where technology comes in. 

Last year, Canada’s Globe and Mail launched a tool that can determine whether to present a paywall. Sophi, a technology developed in-house, uses deep-learning technology to automate that and other publishing decisions, according to reports.

Sesamy is backed by a  €3.3m seed round  led by investment firm GP Bullhound. But adoption so far is apparently limited to two Swedish news sites:  Breakit, and Kvartal, both of which recently signed on. 

But Sesamy has some experience in offering content online: it serves as a content portal for e-books and other content that readers can pay to access—per click.

The company was founded by Ulvestam, Karl Rosander and Markus Ahlstrand, who previously co-founded the podcasting platform Acast.  

They may be on to something. The recent Toolkits survey found that 70% of consumers have signed up for a free subscription with no intent of paying when the trial expires. But 43% say they are more likely to pay if the website has allowed them to view some content for free. Maybe that extends to cheap clicks. 


1 comment about "Pay As You Go: Firm Says The Answer To Paywall Resistance Is To Charge Per Click".
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  1. T Bo from Wordpress, November 17, 2022 at 8:11 a.m.

    $1/click sounds like a lot unless you know the article is really substantive.

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