Case Study

Crafting a paywall strategy for a major media brand

Creative Good helped an established media brand understand how its users would be willing to to access (and pay for) content in a new paywall environment.

The Challenge

In the changing landscape of advertising sales, our client knew a paywall would be essential, but it was unclear (before research) whether their users would be willing to pay at a scale that would achieve the company’s business objectives.

The Opportunity

The company had an opportunity to turn users from non-loyal readers to paid subscribers by implementing a paywall with the appropriate design.

Creative Good Process

Interviewed leadership across several departments. Produced a rigorous competitive analysis of paywalls in use throughout online media.

Creative Good conduct listening lab research, in a market-research facility, and between sessions led discussions with the client team observers from various departments.

Strategic Insights

  • Users have a key objective when evaluating online content regardless of a paywall being present.
  • For most users, the decision to subscribe happens over a period of time and, typically, the decision to sign up is triggered by a definable event.
  • The key factor in the user's decision to sign up is whether the subscription offer is presented in a certain way.


After assessing the business context and spending time with users, Creative Good arrived at a focused, direct strategy to rally the client team.

Creative Good Recommendations

Based on the user research, we made specific, prioritized recommendations for how to present the paywall, how to leverage online distribution, and how to create an internal discipline around "test, measure, learn."

Creative Good Results

Shortly after launch, the client measured significant gains in key business metrics due to the customer-inclusive strategy Creative Good delivered.

Industry: Media, publishing, news

Services: Business insights, customer insights, business strategy development

Tools: Stakeholder interviews, competitive review, listening labs