With paywalls coming back into fashion among online news sites, publishers are trying to figure out how high to build them. The Wall Street Journal is hosting a 24-hour “digital open house” today, courtesy of Jaguar, temporarily taking down one of the steepest paywalls in the business. The model is similar to one adopted by the New York Times, which partnered with Ford to offer free digital subscriptions when it erected its new paywall. Chris Hughes, the new, 28-year old owner of The New Republic, just partially dismantled the magazine’s paywall, making more content free but limiting comments and access to the archive to subscribers. The biggest news, though, comes from Google, which is partnering with AdWeek and about two dozen publishers on a new paywall alternative. Under the new Google Consumer Surveys model, some articles on web sites will be partially blocked. To continue reading, users will be asked to answer a multiple-choice, one-question survey. Advertisers will pay Google to place the surveys, and Google will pay publishers 5 cents per answer. Now if Google could just figure out how to keep the surveys embedded in articles as they get aggregated by third parties they might really have something.
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