After seeing Steve Yelvington’s paywall infographic this week I was struck by two things.

1) I recognized the pattern

2) it seemed to underestimate (graphically speaking) the effect of loyal visitors we see on our own site.

Take a look:

Click on that graphic to see a slightly larger version. Basically, we see about 50% of our traffic come from the 3% of our readership representing our two most loyal cohorts: ‘daily’ and ‘loyal’ visitors. Those readers come to the site at least 5 times per week. There are not many of them, but they are persistent.

So, that upside-down and lopsided Bell Curve causes a few problems. If you wanted (hypothetically) to put up a paywall – where do you put it?

The readers on the far left are not highly engaged with your site, many are one-time visitors even if they are local. But, there are a lot of them!

The readers on the far right are highly engaged, mostly local but they are probably too few to build a subscription model with.

That leaves the happy medium – the occasional and weekly visitors who visit often enough, and generate enough traffic to be valuable both for CPM and potential premium offerings. But of course how would you target them with any premium model without risking either raw uniques of the fly-bys or the massive page view generation of the loyals?

No seriously, how would you? And that probably explains why we are hearing a lot of talk about paywalls this year, but aside from some unique instances – not much action so far.