On Monday, AdWeek had an interesting article about Sports Illustrated testing out a new paywall. But, it's not the kind of paywall you might think. Instead of the traditional subscription based service or the NY Times tested read-ten-articles-for-free-and-then-start-paying method, SI is asking us to pay with our time:
Sports Illustrated is testing a paywall that lets readers access its print articles early if they watch a 30-second video ad first.
The provider is Selectable Media, which has been testing consumers’ willingness to watch video ads for free WiFi, music and games. This is its first public test with a major consumer magazine.
I actually think this is a GREAT idea. I've seen this done before, choosing to watch a 30-second ad in order to access free Wi-Fi at Logan Airport. How many times have you been at an aiport that makes you pay some ridiculous amount of money to access its Wi-Fi (coughcoughOHAREcoughcough) even if you're only there for like, an hour? But we pay the $8.95 or whatever it is because we need to Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram our layovers away. I don't know about you, but I would GLADLY trade in 30-seconds of my time in order to access all of that for free.
SI is going to do just that for select articles normally reserved for print subscribers. It's a great way to lure more people to the site and keep them there. More traffic means more money means more content. And all it will cost you is a mere 30-seconds.
Having traditional paywalls seems counterproductive. You're losing tons of people who would otherwise be on the site, which means less traffic and ad revenue to maintain your level of content. Whatever sites like SF Chronicle were charging for subscriptions could not possibly have made up for the lost ad dollars. SI is finding a way to create more revenue with us (most likely) barely noticing the hassle of having to select and watch a 30 second ad to access content for free.
It will be interesting to see if more news and sports related sites start doing this. We already see preroll ads on YouTube all the time. This could be a way forward for companies publishing content online looking to keep visitors and generate more revenue.