Edge Web3: The end of Paywalls, Subscriptions, and Cookies

Free usually comes with a price but funding the production of user-centered video content (especially those in live streaming) is a pressing issue for publishers. The past few years have witnessed massive growth in video consumption and live streaming. While we may be used to enjoying free access to video content, live streaming our favorite shows, and watching our chosen celebrities, the industry’s growth has also affected and influenced the funding model for online content production and streaming. Though there are other indicators, many consumers now fall prey to cookies, paywalls, and subscriptions searching for valuable content. As a result, publishers, content creators and media houses prioritize online advertising as a funding method rife with privacy issues and oriented toward financial returns, not viewers’ enjoyment.

In reality, industry observers have reported this proliferation and how it is affecting even the tech giants. Many users hate seeing advertisements on their Youtube videos; they don’t like seeing paid ads on Twitch. When this happens, they deprive the publishers of the expected financial returns and needed funding. Because of this perception, digital publishers, producers, and creators now leverage cookies to capitalize on the personalization potentials of paywalls and subscriptions to increase sustainable reader revenue significantly. Nevertheless, this transition toward a “metered-access” content consumption has potentially negative implications for our society. Instead of an ecosystem where content flows freely, subscriptions and paywalls create a system where quality information is only available to a selected few who can afford it, leaving the rest of the viewers with less information. In most cases, this “leftover” information is sometimes low quality and less accurate.

Exploring the Alternative: Cookies, Paywalls, and Subscriptions

A dominant monetization model for publishers and creators is digital advertising. Along with paged content, publishers sell advertisements to fund their production and distribution process; third parties buy some ad slots and fill them with visuals provided by ad agencies and their clients. This programmable process uses cookies (based on viewer’s data) and completes personalised content in real-time over programmatic auction processes. Why are publishers aggressively pushing for paywalls and subscriptions? Advertisements have become the business story of Livestream and visual content, and even the tech giants have awoken to its strategic importance. While mainstream publishing outlets and global TVs may promise similar end goals, different media fundamentally adopt the same process and are usually more directly tied to cookies, paywalls, and subscriptions. Centralising the entire model opens up opportunities for broader exploration. That doesn’t mean this approach does not come without benefits for viewers and consumers. Although some creators and publishers have gathered impressive financial returns and delivered value, there’s a natural tension at the heart of this model regarding consumers’ privacy, incentivization, and the quality of information.

In some instances, publishers and website owners are not satisfied with this “pay-to-view” funding system. As such, it represents a choice that principally conflicts with the benefit of content consumption — maximum enjoyment. Again, this looks great from a revenue generation perspective, but the gated content reduces the tactical value of content creation, distribution, and consumption. Centralising users’ info, sharing their private information with third parties, and monetising it does not align with the business of decentralisation. Few seem keen to have a balanced, consumer-centric approach (which is a balance that will give a win-win outcome for publishers and viewers). Beyond this, we face a future of centralisation, data breach, and privacy invasion. It is, perhaps, not surprising that consumers are looking for alternatives that respect their privacy and reward their time and effort in consuming content. Three reasons appear to be particularly relevant.

In the first place, the monetisation strategy through paywalls and subscriptions is reportedly dominated by Facebook and Google, with about 70% of global ad revenues. This figure reduces creators’ take for placing ads through market power. Secondly and most importantly, the distribution and consumption pattern suffers from increasing fraud and scam rates, depriving publishers and creators of further funding. Reportedly, behavioural advertising channels using cookies are frustratingly becoming incomparable with the legal privacy demands of individuals and countries. Consequently, viewers now use ad-blocking tools for various reasons- ranging from aesthetic to performance and privacy. Every time a viewer makes a free viewing decision, they create a debt that will be paid by a paywall or by subscribing to premium content. Over the past few years, ad revenues have reduced, and publishers are coming up short even if they bank on visitor traffic. Paywalls and subscriptions are two entities designed to innovate in two directions; log impressive financial gains and discriminate against viewership using viewers’ paycheques. Over-indexing these objectives, so far, has presented a mixed record for viewers and publishers. On the one hand, publishers with a large audience base and quality content are successful with this model (Youtube, Facebook, The Wall Street Journal, and The Financial Times) while the success of paywalls for new publishers is low. It is hard to play the game of satisfaction more wholeheartedly when financial gains occupy the theme of discussion.

Nobody likes monthly charges for content they don’t watch. Especially for a subscription they’ve forgotten about entirely.

We all have first-hand experience of these flaws. The galvanising forces of combining engineering with management went into developing a decentralised live streaming platform -a truth reflected in EDGE as the video player for the web3 ecosystem. By mixing entertainment with excitement, the development of EDGE has been constructed with a green awareness of paywalls and subscriptions. Unlike any other player, the platform with its Watch2Earn functionality and decentralized CDN allows viewers to own an NFT of their favourite celebrities or publishers while being rewarded for their time. As we approach a world of multi-paywalls, EDGE promises to leverage blockchain to put power in the hands of the viewers. Imagine owning an NFT that unlocks access to gated Live shows? This is what EDGE does for its viewers — unlocking economic opportunities for live streamers and video content consumers. It sounds like a totally untrue promise, but it’s what EDGE represents and even more.

This incredible journey with both ad-supported and premium content begins with the viewer’s Crypto Wallet.

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EDGE- Writer Joe Ward

33 years in media & technology, serial entrepreneur. IAM Media Top 300 IP Strategist 2021 in US. Joe is the founder and CEO of Edge Video, inventors of the EDGE