Metered paywalls are a growing alternative to traditional ad revenue models, but a multi-dimensional metered approach offers publishers more opportunities for relationship building, with higher conversion rates and stronger consumer loyalty.

Metered paywalls have been implemented by some of the largest and most innovative publishers including the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Wired. Publishers need to find alternative methods for growing revenue beyond traditional ad-supported access to content. Numerous factors have converged to apply pressure on the digital publishing ad model, including the rapid adoption of adblocking technology, growing concerns over visitor tracking and consent, and visitor desire for more control over their internet experience. Publishers continue to research and deploy a variety of paywall approaches to find the best fit for their audience and business objectives.

Hard paywalls, where a paid subscription is required before any content can be viewed, can be risky and not appropriate for all publishers. Wired.com has had success with a metered paywall, where visitors can view a specified number of stories before they are required to purchase a subscription. Dynamic paywalls are showing even greater results, by leveraging visitor and traffic data to tie subscription options more closely to visitor behavior and the type of content they prefer. But in the end, most solutions are primarily focused on a black and white decision point — either a visitor becomes a subscriber of paid content, or not — and that singular focus can push visitors away just when there’s an opportunity to grow relationships.

In contrast, the multi-dimensional metered paywall is focused on deepening the relationship with visitors incrementally and ultimately maximizing paywall results.

What is multi-dimensional metering for paywalls?

Multi-dimensional metering (MDM) allows publishers to map a variety of engagement offers to visitors as intelligent, incremental steps, deepening their engagement at the visitors’ pace. Going beyond just paid subscriptions, the multi-dimensional approach allows publishers to leverage many options along a continuum of visitor engagement and relationship.

Rather than just ask visitors if they are ready to pay for access or go home, consumers can be asked to:

  • follow a publisher’s social accounts,
  • register for an email newsletter,
  • opt-in to web notifications,
  • whitelist the site or turn off adblockers,
  • consent to custom ad experiences,
  • engage in a sponsored activity, or
  • ultimately pay for premium content, ad-lite or ad-free experiences on a single site or network bundle of sites.

Visitors are not homogenous, even for a highly niche content site. Some are okay with viewing ads, but want more control over the type and frequency. Others are happy to share a social login in exchange for an ad-lite experience.  The majority of visitors simply aren’t ready to “get married” with a subscription in a publisher’s first ask. Instead, multi-dimensional metering helps publishers and visitors get to know each other, become friends, and date in the courtship leading up to subscription.

Over time, relationships equal revenue, and the multidimensional approach offers less risk than a  “pay or go home” metered paywall gate. With a multi-dimensional approach, visitors are still on a path forward with “relationship microtransactions”, at a more personalized pace. Publishers should consider nimble and smart paywall approaches that are responsive to visitor choice while building long-term relationships, reducing churn, and improving long-term revenues.


For a demo of how Admiral’s Visitor Relationship Management (VRM) platform expands the relationship between publishers and users beyond the one-dimensional eyeballs & ads model. >>> Get a Free Demo