As a regular user of any product you tend to become fairly attached and expect a certain level of benefits. In the media world many newspapers and media outlets are implementing paywalls in a desperate attempt to generate revenue. However, is the paywall a solution or something slightly different such as a membership club? People love being a part of something collective and I can’t help but wonder if this is a better monetisation strategy than a exclusionary paywall.
One of the more interesting of these recent experiments is the one from Talking Points Memo. The new membership program that is launching later this month is called TPM Prime and will cost readers $50 per year. For their money users will have content-related benefits, such as preferential access to a line of TPM Singles — mini e-books that the site plans to publish on a variety of topics — and the signup page mentions future possibilities including discounts on other publications that Talking Points Memo might cut a deal with. But the main benefit of membership is the opportunity to get more involved with the site in other ways, including member-only discussion forums, as well as exclusive live chats and interviews with newsmakers and political influencers.
Instead of treating readers like criminals stealing content, a “membership club” helps them feel even more involved with a publishers content. It’s the VIP queue at a club, the place everyone who is interested wants to be as opposed to having to deal with the angry bouncer. At $50 a year who knows if this will actually make Talking Point Memo any money but it’s certainly a bold move that has some great merits.