Media Moves

Why the Wall Street Journal is bending its paywall

August 15, 2016

Posted by Chris Roush

WSJ markets pageShan Wang of the Nieman Lab writes about how the Wall Street Journal is mixing it up with its paywall.

Wang writes, “Now the Journal is trying to make its paywall neither stricter nor leakier, but bendier. It’s now testing 24-hour guest passes for non-subscribers, an offer that pops up when readers access a story shared by a subscriber or a Journal staffer. (If you don’t enter your email address, you just get to read the one story.) Down the line, the Journal may also be testing other time increments for the guest passes.

“It’s also opening up opportunities for subscribers and members, as well as Journal staffers themselves, to share full articles for free through social media. If you click on any link shared by sportswriter Jason Gay, for instance, you’ll now definitely be able to read the story. These more significant paywall tweaks were first implemented last Friday, informed by experiments with distribution over the past several years, according to Dow Jones chief customer officer Katie Vanneck-Smith. (I asked about experiments like the closing of the Google search loophole, but she declined to go into specifics about previous tests but said in general tests have helped grow the Journal’s paying subscriber base.)

“‘We’ve been successful at having a digital paywall, but we haven’t innovated it in a number of years,’ Vanneck-Smith said. ‘Now we’re making sure that instead of a one-size-fits-all approach for customer groups, we have a more sophisticated approach that’s dependent on customers and the stories they’re previously reading.'”

Read more here.

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