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A Paywall I Can Get Behind
By: Mike Bush
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We’ve all seen a headline to an article and thought, “I can’t wait to jump into this.” Maybe it is about a hot new technology. Perhaps it’s some celebrity gossip. Maybe it’s an article about a baseball player cheating. (It could even be the latest Flack Me post).

And, as soon as we click to read this story that’s left us with such anticipation, we realize this isn’t at all what we were hoping it would be. Maybe it is a rehash of something previous. Or maybe the article headline doesn’t do justice what the article is (to be fair, this is a blog about Flacking… there’s a chance most reporters reading this are nodding their heads and saying, "But you flacks do this to me all the time with email subject lines..." I digress).

A post on the Neiman Journalism Blog profiles a Dutch company that is tackling this program head on, but creating a paywall that allows folks who didn’t appreciate an article to get their money back (like all great ideas, this was hatched at a pub). Essentially working as an aggregator of top stories from large Dutch publications, users of Blendl have the ability to pay for individual news stories, and if they’re not satisfied, get their money back.

In order to prevent folks from gaming the system (reading articles and asking for all their money back), Blendl employs a ratio for its user base that makes it so folks who purchase more content are able to go in for more refunds.

It’s a super interesting concept, and one that could, potentially, be very good for publishers. Instead of the typical model of "XX free articles before you need to sign up for a subscription," this could allow publishers to be compensated for their work from the moment it goes live, and could encourage new people to try out a publisher with a far lower entrance risk (no need for a subscription).

What do you think? Would you be more likely to sample additional sources of info if you only needed to pay a small amount?

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About the Author
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc. 
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