SODP Dispatch - 6 October 2023

Why these publishers' paywalls work, impact of Google September 2023 helpful content update, and more tips and news for digital publishers

Happy Friday!

Today, let’s talk about the metaverse and whether it actually matters to publishers.

Our managing editor, Andrew Kemp, discusses this subject in his weekly Editor’s Note column:

Observers love to talk about change. It gives them the chance to flex their analytical muscles and present some “what if” scenarios with a certain degree of risk-free authority.

Sure, it can go spectacularly wrong when making short-term predictions. Still, more forward-looking projections are generally treated with more forgiveness, perhaps because the sea of other forecasts muddies the water when it’s time to pay the piper.

With this in mind, I decided to indulge in a bit of fortune-telling this week and ask whether publishers need to prepare for the metaverse. This subject has been on my mind thanks to metaverse believers (read investors) speaking of the tech’s potential to be a significant digital disruptor.

I’m not so sure. Here’s the TL;DR for the time-pressed among you: the metaverse is unlikely to be an issue for publishers for at least a decade, more likely two decades and possibly never.



Paywalls have come a long way since The Wall Street Journal implemented the first-ever hard paywall in 1996.

By 2019, nearly 69% of all US and EU leading newspapers were operating a paywall. Another survey conducted in November 2022 among content marketers revealed that 14% used paywalls and/or subscription services as their preferred monetization method. This followed closely behind advertising, which was the choice of 18% of respondents.

Paywalls are quickly closing in on advertising as content creators’ preferred monetization strategy.

The introduction of stricter data privacy laws and the challenge this poses for contextual and targeted advertising is only expected to further fuel the rise of paywalls as an alternative to ad revenue. At the same time, paywalls can also complement ad revenue, helping publishers collect first-party data to show more contextual and targeted ads.

Given the increasing importance of paywalls to publishing, we dive into the world of paywalls, understanding how publishers can best implement paywalls around their content by looking at some of the most prominent examples from the publishing world.



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