How online publishers implement a paywall determines its success

Metered or paywall-limited access to online and digital publications is the buzz these days, but it takes more than a pay button to make it work. Press+ is one of the platforms that got a bit of coverage lately. A platform that has had some success in the Eastern part of the EU is Piano Media. Piano Media has recently started to penetrate the Western part of the EU so it’s interesting to see what makes their offering successful.

Press+ is a more or less traditional platform for paywal publishing. It offers publishers to ability to charge for metered access, premium content, and all-digital access subscriptions. This almost sounds like what the free Tinypass system offers, except that Press+ also delivers out-of-market access (charge differently based on whether the user is in or out of your market). The rest of the Press+ positioning revolves around how you can charge for access and how you can further try convince people to come back and pay after all.

The free Tinypass system doesn’t offer the support Press+ delivers, nor does it support your marketing efforts, but the paywall capabilities are very much the same.

However, neither of them focus on the readers’ needs. It’s left to the page developer to position the payment chiclet, and people are often not warned payment is required before they hit the page that is behind the paywall.

You could argue the reader needs only one thing: free access, but perhaps you would be wrong. Piano Media’s track record so far suggests you are wrong. In the Eastern countries of the EU, Piano Media has succeeded in turning newspapers into profitable operations again by offering readers a ‘national’ subscription to all online and digital news. The philosophy behind the approach was that readers would like to pay for access to all newspapers of the country. This has worked quite well in countries like Poland and Slovakia.

However, the EU not being the mono-business block most people think it is, Piano Media has had to adjust its approach in order to launch its paywall platform in the UK, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. Instead of delivering national access, Piano Solo is for publishers or publishing groups who have specific needs or choose not to participate in a common platform.

Piano Solo offers a SaaS model where specific implementation is supported by Piano resources. This solution can be customised for a desired look-and-feel and user experience, and provides the necessary analytics to help publishers adjust their paid-content strategies.

Key features of Piano Solo include:

  • Custom tailored solutions
  • Supports all common payment methods
  • Customized look & feel
  • Various paid content models
  • Analytics dashboard and access to raw data
  • Full publisher ownership of user data
  • Integration with existing customer databases
  • Optional end-user support in native language
  • Marketing, pricing, product strategy and web implementation consulting.

The part of Piano Solo the reader comes into contact with, however, is the same as with Piano National. Everything about this platform is targeted towards making it easy for the reader to subscribe or buy. There’s a Piano bar on top of the page that is always visible, even before paying, so it is clear the publication is ready to accept payment. One page handles payment, which offers bank wire transfers and direct debit, next to credit card and Paypal payments. Immediately after paying, readers get access to the content while their subscription status is one click away.