- Kirsten Ballard
Part of a Series Featuring the 2017 Accelerator Pitch Program Winners
The switch to digital has been a challenge for most publishers. Advertising and subscription models have struggled to find a balance.
Ad blockers are on the rise and the digital ad market does not support content the way print advertising once supported newspapers.
Add in the expectation that online content be free, and you see the problem newspapers are running into. Wallit hopes to lower the barrier of online paywalls and become the magic bullet that makes quality content sustainable.
CEO and founder Mike Gehl hopes to increase publishers’ digital revenue.
Wallit is a subscriber management solution. It works with publishers to increase online subscriptions through an intuitive and easy paywall. The software is a layer that is inserted into the CMS. It acts as a gatekeeper that allows consumers access to content. Additionally, Wallit staffers work with publishers on strategy and how to inform readers about the billing changes.
The idea is to keep a lot of the content free; Gehl recommends 80 to 95 percent staying in front of the paywall.
“Charge for the most valuable content, leave most for free,” he says.
However, Wallit works with hybrid strategies and can meter articles as well. “We can do pay per article or subscriptions. It’s up to the publisher to define how much they want to charge for content.”
The idea came that they could improve the way consumers interact with newspapers online. Most paywalls are not the most intuitive from a user experience perspective.
“We outline the steps it takes to sign up, and give a clear understanding of what they get when they sign up. We simplify it as much as possible. We take care of all credit card and payment issues that come with online payments.”
Wallit will automatically take care of monthly renewals or yearly subscriptions. They also link the print and online subscriptions, so users can have free access online.
Additionally, Wallit is set up on an account system to help reduce the number of accounts customers have to maintain and make it easier for them to get news from multiple sources.
“If you sign up with Durango Herald but you go to a magazine website that uses Wallit, you already have an account. It’s extremely easy to buy in,” Gehl says. “The biggest barrier to purchasing is having to put your credit card in. If we can streamline that process and lower that barrier, it becomes kind of a network and all of these publications can easily charge for their content.”
In the next year, he wants to expand Wallit to more newspapers, but longer term plans include digital-only publications and blog sites.