The business platform for digital media

Setting up a metered paywall II: Data sources

Oct 16, 2015

This is the second part of a three part series by Piano Lead Data Scientist Roman Gavuliak that was posted earlier on Piano Media’s blog.

Setting up a metered paywall I: Estimation
Setting up a metered paywall III:Time Period
To read all of Roman’s articles please click here

There are multiple options to attain data with Google Analytics among the most popular. However, most relevant Google Analytics metrics (such as page depth) are measured per visit, certain aggregation and approximation must be applied in order to achieve the right result. Therefore estimations based on Google Analytics have several shortcomings; it overestimates the percentage of users who consume less content while underestimating those who consume more.

To eliminate this discrepancy Piano has developed a tool for collecting relevant content consumption data called the Piano bar. Using sophisticated tracking technology Piano compensates for the shortcomings from systems such as Google Analytics. Below is a comparison of how the curve using Piano bar data compares with a curve constructed through approximation from Google Analytics data:


The parameters of the curve shown above vary greatly for different media based on both their content and website structure, yet can be approximated by a single mathematical function. In some media a limit of 11 free articles per month might affect 40% of readers, while 5 monthly articles for a different title might hit only a little above 15%. Despite certainly not revealing the whole story, it allows you to make an informed decision on the limit of free articles in a metered paywall.