A paywall label is a filter that identifies paid content from the free on the search results page. It is made to ease the process of finding relevant information on the internet by preventing links that would ask for a subscription or any other form of payment. A paywall restricts a website’s premium content and charges a fee to unlock it; it also acts as a revenue model for a website that sells products and services. However, there are pros and cons of having a paywall label for both users and those running the websites and we’ll be taking a closer look at the different aspects of consideration.
It labels paid content in the search results
First and foremost, as already mentioned, paywall labels act as filters to identify and differentiate paid content in search results. For a given user it comes in handy and saves time and effort to find information on the internet. However, it becomes frustrating to find content and start to read it only to be restricted in the process. This sentiment has been observed in a recent poll, where over 67% preferred the idea of having a label. Being able to know beforehand which sites can be accessed saves your time and energy.
It allows users to skip or overlook paid content
Building forward from the case, knowing beforehand the sites that can be accessed provides a bullseye view for skipping and overlooking links that might not deliver desired results. It is a potentially revolutionary power in the hands of the user as it can dictate new ways of doing business and change the landscape of consuming media on the internet.
Display content that has unrestricted access
Knowing what content can be accessed properly without any restriction might save a lot of time and energy for the user as it will provide an opportunity to filter out and discover information that is hassle-free and one that doesn’t ruin the fun of unrestricted reading. The results on the search page will streamline the list of what can be consumed in its entirety and what falls behind a paywall. Thus, allowing more power to the user to decide upon the links to click on.
It negatively affects websites
The websites that offer premium content might fall on the bad side of the receiving end, as paywall labels segregate content based on monetary restrictions and combine this with already listed points above. In such cases, what you will get is content that cannot drive traffic even if it is available partly to the consumer. Therefore, paywall labels might negatively affect on website’s business if they don’t find a way around them.
Mediocrity over quality
One other aspect of labeling paywalls is that it allows easier navigation of content that is free and mediocre in standard (although, not all free content is mediocre). This will allow quality content to be superseded by the free content and can create ‘bad bubbles’ of information on the internet. Paywall labels might reduce traffic on quality journalism but it is also important to understand that quality journalism should be supported financially to ensure credible sources of information.
As it stands, paywall labels can provide a better user experience and hassle-free navigation of results on the search page. However, considering the other side of the coin, it also has the potential to take away the source of revenue for websites that ensures its sustenance.