The Demographic Paywall Problem

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Missed this interesting paywall post while I was at Like Minds last week:

I asked my class of 20-year-old Elon University students how many were on Facebook. All 33 raised their hands. Many of them suggested they were addicted to the social network. (It was all I could do to keep them off Facebook during class.)

I asked how many would pay $1 a month for Facebook membership. All raised their hands.

“Five dollars?” I asked. A few dropped out.

“Ten dollars a month?” I asked. Nearly every hand stayed down.

“No one?” I said. “I thought you guys were addicted?”

A student piped up with an explanation: “Someone will invent something else to take its place that is free.”

It’s an interesting challenge: older customers might be prepared to pay, because they’re used to the model. Younger customers don’t reject the model, but their expectations of value are very different. That suggests that paywalls, as currently constituted, are a defensive measure to gain revenue from a declining, older customer base.

Caveat: it would be interesting to see the same questions asked if it was company money, not personal cash at stake…

business modelsdemographicspaywalls

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.