Here’s An Idea: Paid Subscribers

How many of you subscribe to Coloribus, Luerzer’s Archive or other sites that demand payment to view ads?
According to, the site has 10,000 subscribers. It doesn’t say at what level, but given their pricing structure, I have to think 10,000 subscribers equals a lot of income. Archive too is a costly item at 99 British pounds per annum.
So, why do these portfolio sites draw top dollar when there is a bounty of “free” counterparts on the web? I don’t know the answer to that. I suppose you could argue the paid sites do a better job of displaying the work. Coloribus does have the advantage of partnering with many award shows.
At any rate, one needs to ask what exactly is worth paying so much money for? Answer: ads and lots of them. People who make ads want to see ads by others, all the time, as a form of inspiration and as a mirror onto their work and their place in the world.
It’s interesting that Coloribus and Archive ask viewers to pay, when the opposite model where agencies pay to have their work displayed (otherwise known as the award show circuit) is doing gangbusters. The reality is when it comes to “the work” people will pay to see it, and businesses will pay to display it.
Again, I puzzle at this. Advertising is something most people work hard to avoid. Yet there’s a class of people–advertisers themselves and their agency friends–that are obsessed with the topic. So much so they’re willing to invest big money with the hope that they’ll find an edge.
The takeaway from this is publishers with mission-critical information can charge for it, now as always. The Wall Street Journal charges for its online content. I believe The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and other papers of record could do the same. Particularly, if the online subscriptions were offered at reasonable prices.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.