Update: An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested that Outlook had gone behind a paywall, which it hadn’t. Our apologies. Chirag from Outlook points out:
1) We are not behind a paywall. Our content continues to be available to all users for free as long as users are willing to see and interact with the ads as was the case earlier.
2) We have never blocked ad blocking scripts. We’ve always believed users are mature enough to make the right choice. That said, we may experiment with it, to see impact on adoption of the ad-free option.
3) We are especially proud of our implementation of micropayments. Once signed up & logged in, readers can purchase an article with two clicks. One of which is the confirmation of OTP. (This is of course assuming, there is a wallet balance).
4) The idea of the ad-free option (as opposed to a hard paywall) is to allow the reader the flexibility to choose his experience. This is a conscious choice and hope that there will be other players who will provide such an option. We hope to see this grow as a viable third alternative to network advertising and a hard paywall.
Jan 23rd 2017: News magazine Outlook is now experimenting with micropayments. Now, readers can choose if they wish to read with ads or pay Rs 1 for reading the story without ads. In addition, it also has daily, monthly and yearly subscription plans. (hat tip: Cyril Sam)
Readers are prompted to login for the ad free service or sign up when they choose to pay for a story. Users can can pay via net banking, cards or wallets (currently supported wallets are FreeCharge, PayUMoney, Citrus or Ola Money). Outlook has partnered with Paylo for its payment options. Paylo was started in 2015 by former Foodpanda MD Rohit Chadda.
It’s worth pointing out that existing ad blockers are effective on the website even if customers choose to continue reading with ads.
Here is the site when ad block was enabled.
When we clicked “continue with ads” with an ad blocker on.
Outlook’s decision to experiment with micropayments as little as Rs 1 is interesting and seems to have taken a cue from Dutch news aggregator Blendle which allows readers to pay 25 cents for a story. Blendle also allows readers to ask for a refund if they think the story was not worth their time.
Last week, parts of political news and analysis website Newslaundry went behind a paywall. For now, the comics and two podcasts (NL Hafta, Let’s Talk About) are going behind the paywall.
So far, in India, some of the publications who have opted to take some of their content behind a paywall includes Business Standard, VCCircle and The Ken. Meanwhile, internationally, the New York Times published a report on how the paper would be plan to monetize in the future and stressed that it would only focus on subscriptions.
In July 2016, many major Indian publishers asked users to turn off their ad blockers to read their stories on their websites. India has more than 122 million users ad blockers according to a study by conducted by PageFair. To put that in context, this is almost half the number of Internet users in India (306 million users as of December 2015).