In context: Paywalls can help publications pay the bills, but they can be a nuisance for infrequent readers. Typically these potential customers are turned off and find their information elsewhere. Medium has an idea that will allow new readers exposure to its content without turning them off with a paywall.
Media outlet Medium will soon have a free gate in its paywall. The company’s CEO Ev Williams announced on Thursday that users who visit the site via Twitter links would be able to view entire articles for free. There will be no monthly limit to how many stories users can access this way either.
All @Medium paywalled stories are now free and unmetered when you’re coming from Twitter.— Ev Williams (@ev) February 27, 2019
Currently, the site allows users to read up to three articles for free before throwing up a paywall asking for $5 per month ($50 per year) for unlimited access. One would think that offering content for free through another free web service would threaten subscription potential. However, Williams does not see it that way.
“As it stands, Twitter is a relatively small (but important) part of our traffic, and we expect this to have a positive effect,” said the CEO in a follow-up tweet regarding such concerns.
In other words, he expects it to draw new subscribers. He added that the company would keep a close eye on subscription counts and would discontinue the offer if it started to have a negative impact.
It doesn't affect compensation—assuming you mean for Partner Program. That's determined by readership from paying members, which will still be counted (assuming they're logged in).— Ev Williams (@ev) February 27, 2019
Some voiced concerns for the authors that provide content to the website, primarily if it will affect their compensation. Williams explained that writers are paid based on viewership only from logged-in paying members. This logic presumes that most traffic coming from Twitter will not be paying members and so will not be counted in the first place.
It is an interesting experiment that I would not mind seeing other publications that I infrequently visit implement. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see if the move has any effect on Medium’s subscriber base first.