A paywall label is a label accompanying search results that can tell the user whether the content of a given website is paid-protected or free. Paywalls restrict web content for users unless they pay a subscription, and it allows websites to monetize their content and generate revenue for its maintenance and business.
We can take a look at it from the point of view of a user searching the internet for information. They’re looking for some relevant article or page and upon stumbling across it, they proceed to visit the site only to be rudely reminded, hallway through reading, that the content needs to be paid for. Such instances can be and usually are very frustrating to the user, who now needs to continue his or her search, wasting unnecessary time.
As mentioned earlier, paywall labels are intended to indicate your search results according to the monetary nature of the content. It will prevent you from clicking on a paid link, which will in turn be made possible by offering various other results with similar content. Enabling a paywall label will save time and energy in coming across the right information without any hassles. It will also be less frustrating for the visitor and will create a space for more readily accessible information.
Paywall labels have the power to change the way websites work, as it will change the way consumers behave when looking for information. Following are some of the effects that can be witnessed in consumer behavior concerning paywall labeling.
Consumers will skip over paid content
The most obvious change in consumer behavior will be that of skipping the paid content. The very purpose of a paywall label is to segregate search results based on paid and free content. And, traditionally, one only becomes aware of the paywall after accessing the website. However, should a label be employed, the user can decide beforehand if they want to access a particular site for information. A recent poll conducted by Deyan Darketing confirmed this, with 67% of users finding labels to be of great use. By having this system in place, you will be ensuring that people won’t be skipping over or overlooking any relevant content.
Consumers will look for free content
If consumers want to skip paid content, the only option they are left with is flocking towards free content on websites that might lack the quality and credibility of the information. Such action might lead those lower-quality articles to rise in popularity and even those same articles appearing in high-priority search results, creating a kind of bubble of mediocre content. This will not only impact the way consumers find and disseminate information, but it will also influence their psychology in various other related areas.
Consumption of bad quality and poor sources of information
According to Google, allowing paywall labels will affect the paid website’s businesses negatively and will erode the level of quality in the journalism involved. The general population today simply doesn’t care to lavish either their attention or money on something they can get for free elsewhere. Such instances will inevitably increase the consumption of bad journalism and the proliferation of poorly sourced information.
Paywall labels can be a source of problems for premium websites, however, to the average user, it can prove to be a very useful tool – one that has the power to change consumer behavior drastically. With this continued dichotomy playing out in the world of information consumption, the effective benefits are entirely dependant on which side of the argument you find yourself on.