Camouflage has historically been considered bad, because a consumer clicked expecting particular content or a user experience while engaging in an experience that differed significantly.
As publishers became more aggressive with the payment walls they placed their brands and user confidence in the back seat in an effort to increase revenue per visit.
Below are 2 screenshots of one of the most extreme versions I have seen recently.
The first is a subscription modal that appears by default when you visit the newspaper’s website.
The second is the page as it appears after closing the modal.
Basically everything on the page is hidden except for ads and navigation.
The content is hidden – hidden.
This kind of behavior would not only have a horrible impact on time on site measurements, but it would teach users not to click on their sites in the future, if users even remembered the publisher’s brand.
The contempt for the user experience will lead to an even more rapid loss of relevance for publishers.
On the screenshot above, I scrambled the brand logo on the initial popover, but when you look at the final article after this modal pop, you get a hidden article with all the ads and brand of the site is completely invisible. A site that hides its mark, except when asking for money, is unlikely to get many conversions.
Many news sites now look as horrible as the MySpace pages created by ugly users did. And apart from the MySpace pages that provided malware, the user experience is probably worse.
Each news site that takes this approach effectively increases user hatred of all websites that take this approach.
It accumulates. Then users end up saying screw it up. And they left – forever.
The public will thus continue to migrate news sites to any other place hosting their content such as Google AMP, Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, Twitter, Opera or Edge or Chrome, new article recommendations from the mobile browser, MSN News, Yahoo News, etc.
Any lifetime customer value model based on early success assumptions with the above approach should take into account the churn rate as well as the brand impact that the following experience will have on most users before become aggressive.
A small positive note for news publishers is more countries are looking to attract merchants’ attention for their content, although I suspect that the kind of double modal paywall stuff above is normalized, other sources of income will not make the practice go away, especially since many local newspapers have been acquired by cutting shops PE extracting all blood from operations through interest payments to themselves.
Originally posted 2020-06-06 01:17:34.