Dilbert Takes On The Paywall

from the destroying-revenue dept

As a few of you have sent in, it looks like Scott Adams isn’t a huge fan of paywalls, and has expressed that with his latest Dilbert strip:

It’s a nice way to put things succinctly: setting up a paywall equals destroying revenue… I think this is actually a point that gets ignored by many defenders of the paywall. They think that any revenue earned from a paywall is incremental, as if implementing (and then managing) a paywall doesn’t have tremendous costs. The maintenance side is one thing, but the real cost is opportunity cost in ceding the future to other publications.

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Comments on “Dilbert Takes On The Paywall”

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Lutomes (profile) says:

Pot / Kettle much?

Pretty rich for someone who used to have their comic archive locked up behind a subscription paywall himself.

I assume he doesn’t now, but I know they used to be. (At work so I can’t exactly check)

I do remember though “way back” before google ads & decent cpc/cpa etc, that the paywall made sense on some sites, advertising impressions while good initially were worth close to nothing, and you couldn’t make back your bandwidth costs – let alone other operating costs.

frosty840 says:

Re: Pot / Kettle much?

Wasn’t that paywall implemented by the comics syndicate he publishes to?

Comics.com certainly used to only present a 30-day archive to readers, but now allows you to access their entire archives. I’m pretty sure Dilbert is syndicated by the same people.

This was back at the time, though, when selling comics archives was still pretty big business. Look at the Far Side compilations. Those were very nice books, very well presented and frankly a genuine luxury item.

As webcomics have taken off and sales of printed *everything* have dried up, I think the comics syndicates (which have a fairly profitable main business in selling direct-to-newspaper) have been reasonably quick in responding to the change in the market.

They used to be crippled online by the fact that the internet was full of freaks, and freaks all read freakish webcomics, but now that the mainstream has arrived on the internet, I’m sure that the mainstream comics business is going to be starting to bring in some pretty serious mainstream advertising revenue again.

Wild digression aside, yeah, I don’t think that that was his paywall.

techflaws.org (profile) says:

Re: Pot / Kettle much?

Pretty rich for someone who used to have their comic archive locked up behind a subscription paywall himself.

Really? When was that? I’ve been reading his strips for free from his website since 2007 and the only change I noticed was the new annyoing design that made me change my bookmark to http://www.dilbert.com/fast.

Nicedoggy says:

Pulp Fiction – The Golden Age of Sci Fi, Fantasy & Adventure – Full Length Feature

I was watching this “documentary” about how pulp-fiction took off, how it died and the influences that it brought to science and movies productions of today.

Funny that the most creative era of America was when people didn’t make huge amounts of money out of things they just did it because they wanted to.

Maybe my grandchildren will see some documentary in 50 years about how great comics strips were in the 90’s LoL

Surf New Media (user link) says:

Newspapers & Paywalls

We develop newspapers websites, and you would be surprised at the amount of time these companies spend on maintaining the paywall instead of concentrating on advertising. Between staff costs and server costs, these newspapers are losing money on idea of charging readers for reading the content, instead of spending the money on creating a better user experience.

Cdaragorn (profile) says:

Re: Seems Unfair ...

….to learn from the past so that we don’t make the same mistakes again and again and again and again….


If a paywall model is ever found that is actually valuable to the user in any way, I’m sure Mike will praise it. None of the paywalls mentioned here have ever even tried to do that, and many have even been stupid enough to try locking up content that is easily available in many other places.

Andrew Aversa (profile) says:

Does anybody argue that paywalls are valuable to the user? Isn’t the idea just to provide revenue for the business so they can keep producing content? I agree, I don’t think there is a paywall model that could be “valuable to the user”, but then again, you could say the same thing about any subscription model (the consumer prefers to get all the content for free, as opposed to paying for it.)

Most paywalls seem to have been failures. What about Consumer Reports, though? I think they’re in a somewhat unique situation. You can’t access most of their content without paying a subscription fee, which I believe would be considered a paywall. On the other hand, the nature of what they do (reviewing consumer products) means if they were to have any advertising, it would be a conflict of interest. They pride themselves on avoiding such conflicts by instead charging a subscription fee for access to their reviews. It works quite well for them. But again, maybe this is because of their unique situation. The same wouldn’t apply to, say, a news site.

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